1. Eating Lightning, Pt. I
3. Behold, The White Whore
4. Eleventh Century Folklore
5. Trophy Wives
6. Stolen Home
7. Scratch The Roman Numerals
2005 Pluto Records
The Jonbenet begin with a musical foundation based on the less flambouyant, chaotic punk rock of early Blood Brothers and the Locust. They add to this a distinct, unique sense of melody and character, topping it off with flourishes of indie rock, stoner rock and metal. The Plot Thickens compiles music from two of the band's previously released seven inches, the first three tracks from a split and the following five from an EP. The twenty-five minutes of music contained here honestly could've fooled me into thinking it was a complete album, as the two portions mesh very well.
Despite any similarities to the aforementioned bands or genres, the most impressive thing about this disc was the quality of the songwriting. All too often in bands of this nature, the songs feel clearly divided into "parts" as opposed to fitting comfortably together. Despite the harsh contrast that often exists within their songs, The Jonbenet manage to keep unifying themes in the forefront, never losing themselves in their time signatures and structures. When everything but the bass and handclaps drop out in "Eleventh Century Folklore," the song still makes perfect sense and during the quiter parts of "Trophy Wives," the sense of urgency never disappeared.
While all the musicianship and production were well done, Chris Goodwin's [Goodwin is no longer with the group] bass work stood out often as one of the band's greatest strengths. The bass guitar is rarely highlighted to such great effect as it has been here and it was something that drew me back into the music time and again. Not that it was a constant in-your-face presence, but merely used to frequently accent the song's progressions and their underlying melodies, which can sometimes get drowned out in a sea of screams.
Despite the fact that the first three tracks slightly outshine the next five, I was anything but disappointed. It merely served to exhibit the growth of the band in a short period, as the two were recorded barely six months apart. It seems as if the production is just a bit rougher on the second portion of the disc as well, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment at all.
Bottom Line: The Plot Thickens is a surprisingly creative and adept entry into the ever-growing field of bands playing non-conventional hardcore or "screamo" or whatever it's called now. The frantic energy of the Jonbenet, coupled with their songwriting ability, makes this a difficult disc to stop listening to.