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Sloppy Jane – Madison – Visualiser Review

Record spinning is long behind us, more a novelty than something actively needed. A good novelty to have. It is the centrepiece of living rooms adorned with velvet sofas and signed memorabilia. Gone are the days when a television was needed. Any second of spare time is taken up by a record. Cooking, cleaning, considering a quarter-life crisis while draped over the brand-new couch with a lovely yellow throw, it all has its place and the centrepiece is the record player. Old is new and new is dangerous. So too is Madison, the record Sloppy Jane put out at the tail end of 2021. A dangerous record, one which will almost certainly be hailed and chatted about for years and decades beyond. It is of that quality, of the same cloth those essential records our parents told us about. We pass this on to the next generation and rightly so.

READ MORE: Sloppy Jane – Madison Review

Madison is far from over, too. This visualisation brings about everything Sloppy Jane and mastermind Haley Dahl are gunning for. A lost form of work the music video is, and this revival, this continuation of the craft, is stunning. An essential piece not just for already cemented fans but those who are wanting to know the broad appeal of an underpraised collection of tracks. Dahl is not just a gifted songwriter but a dramatist whose compositions spring to life on Overture, now backed by blinding caves and a muddy, cavernous pastiche suitable for a Planet of the Apes dressing down. Most crucial of all, it sets the scene for the fifty-minute experience on show. Iconography which extends beyond the fictional path, the social media articulations of an image, the littering of references and the immediacy of tone to be found on Madison is brought into further vigour by its visual presence. 

Colour, class and composition should be the three C’s every artist aspires to direct toward their work. Everyone does it anyway, whether tucked away on what they perceive as a throwaway track or directly at the heart of their reunion tours, this year is stuffed full of both. JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown directed their attention to their contemporaries and Blacksploitation. Pulp reduces their image to the This is Hardcore era, the seedy velvet curtains and brooding orange glow. Visualisation is an underperforming form for musicians to depend on, and it is startling, but not surprising, to see how well Sloppy Jane engages this for Madison. It is a project far from over. Still as bold and boisterous as it was way back on that first listen, those tender and suppressed memories of Manchester opening shows spring back to the forefront, like it or not. 

Personal moments like that are key to any record, but Madison holds a dear place in the heart. A glimmer of light in an otherwise cloudy summer. Hard to think it was a year ago, but like all the best bits of music, it holds onto its place in the head and heart through connections to real experiences and people. Half of this is down to placement and the time of discovery, the other half is due to the sincerity which flows through this Sloppy Jane release, the quality of the musicianship and the hardships which must surely come from diving deep into a cave to record an album. An Epilogue which features freedom from the theatre and a black screen still punctures the soul with a moving end to an incredible record.

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Madison is an unforgettable experience and its visual form was clear from the get-go. Party Anthem and Jesus and Your Living Room Floor were proof enough of that. But extra inclusions from the recent releases of the found VHS-like Judy’s Room to the dentist phobia-sparking efforts of Lullaby Formica. Madison, visualised or not, should and will cement Haley Dahl as one of the great lyricists. Listen in to The Constable, the octave shifts, the pitch and dynamic presence of a self-assured artist figuring out how to best portray their style. Creatively enduring and haunting even in sobriety, these video additions to the Madison universe are crucial to getting to the real heart of what Sloppy Jane sets out for. It does not corrupt the already established messages listeners and fans found before, but challenges them with brutality, an honesty, most musicians are afraid to offer. See the wall of sound pop out before you and gouge your eyes out. What an experience this is.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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