Devour Me Young
A Review of Census Designated by Andrew Yoo
Never have I felt a gaping pit of despair open within and consume me while listening to an album but I'm not surprised that Jane Remover is behind it. 20-year-old, Jersey native Jane Remover is one of the most versatile and forthcoming artists within her field. Amongst prestigious company like Quadeca and quannic on independent label DeadAir Records, Jane has made a statement with Census Designated, a rock-centric sophomore evolution of sounds and themes found on Frailty. From moment to moment and song to song, Jane fluctuates in this uncertain void of tension that’s always on the brink of splintering into these ambivalently cathartic and oppressive soundscapes. Census Designated is incredibly intent on its themes and its disorienting aesthetics, an unapologetically discordant triumph that marks a severance from an established glitchcore association.
Census Designated feels like an eerily familiar fever dream that is simultaneously alien. It playfully toys with morbid themes in dreamy soundscapes that uncannily feign normalcy while leaving room for contradiction. Unintelligible warbles and grumbles open the introductory track, “Cage Girl / Camgirl”, writhing within the mix and my skin. Jane’s ethereal vocals pierce through the sparse instrumentals and coldly deliver the lines:
“Chew me up, spit me out before you can swallow / I peel my eyes open, everyone knows, and nobody cares”
The graphically visceral lyricism emphasizes the gustatory, a hunger that borders emaciation and is a persistently uncomfortable motif throughout the runtime. Jane is vulnerable and constantly perceived while not being palatable enough for people to care. The multitude of perspectives she writes from exist at odds with each other, sombre of her vulnerable age on “Cage Girl / Camgirl” but gratified by its exploitation on the album’s title track. In the latter, Jane flexes her poetic strengths as she depicts the music industry as a predatory entity that capitalizes on naive young artists. The compelling narrative is heightened by vividly precise word choice and expressive vocal inflections that nuance the naive, juvenile perspective Jane embodies. As a barrage of muddied guitars and disarming squeals assault the chorus, Jane pleads to be heard as she confidently confesses, “I’m young blood, fresh meat, and I like that.” By the end, the illusion of the industry breaks down as the malfunctioning synths throttle the mix and cryptic, growled phrases collapse into an overwhelming nightmare - in a good way!
There’s a destructive tendency to Census Designated that resides within its oftentimes deceptively intimate presentation. “Lips,” a track that grapples with feelings for an abusive partner, shrouds its grisly subject manner under misleading double entendres and heavenly vocals. The instrumentation shapeshifts between phases of harmony and dissonance, hope and dejection, organically flowing to mirror the distorted and one-sided bond of an abusive relationship. Subtle breaks describing a knife being slid up to “where he kissed me” are shaken off in the morning, but by the chorus’s reprise, it becomes consumed by self-destruction. Deranged, distorted screams and heavy guitars, a recurring sound profile if you haven't noticed, clash against Jane’s soaring vocals as she deliriously howls,
“You want crazy, I'll give you insane / Back into the matchbox, you see him smoking my name”
The following two minutes leave the listener to wallow in a mess of nonsensical, viscous thrashing of noise, leaving nothing that remains of her previous identity in her wake. This destruction is necessary. Our existence in a digital plenitude that craves definition and gentrification is draining to simply exist within. To be at the will of the internet’s ‘democratic’ mob that constantly seeks to label and imbue you and your work with their meaning is exhausting. Jane is unwilling to be pigeonholed by the internet’s obsession with hyper-specific playlisting or giving everything a digital, quirky prefix; instead, Jane opts for immersive epics that are uncompromising in sonic or narrative vision.
Despite how I’ve made it sound thus far, the variety of Census Designated goes beyond songs that build toward a hellish soundscape. For instance, “Fling” and “Backseat Girl” are almost anthemic in their construction, providing contrasting orientations of The Lovers card. Despite the tracks including similarly euphoric choruses, the former is a manifestation of longing, while the latter thrives off a manipulative sense of superiority. The lines interwoven within the respective tracks, “(Tell me I’m a good, I’m a good girl)” and “(You’re so ugly when you cry)” simultaneously embody two opposing sentiments yet reconvene in their intrusiveness. Jane has the uncanny ability to meticulously embody a stark range of emotions, conjuring evocative, almost palpable scenes seamlessly. When I hear, “And I let you drive ‘cause I’m a backseat girl” I can’t help but envision Jane gleefully sticking her head out the backseat window, letting the rural breeze flow through her hair as she revels in the control she wields. “Backseat Girl,” in particular, offers this free-flowing dreaminess that is always on the edge of unhinged. At a moment's notice, she performs an intricate vocal run, and in another, her voice becomes a crackling vocoded mess as she attempts to escape the confines of the song. Though I wish the drums were more present in the mix, they carry this infectious coming-of-age-esque momentum that invigorates and drives the track. Despite the minor gripe, you would be hard pressed to find a song as well-constructed as "Backseat Girl."
As of November 14th, Census Designated is my favourite for album of the year alongside underscores’ Wallsocket and Samia’s Honey. “Backseat Girl” is my 2nd favourite song of the year shortly behind “As If” by Glaive.
Favourite Tracks: Cage Girl / Camgirl, Lips, Fling, Backseat Girl, Idling Somewhere, Census Designated, Video, Contingency Song [Album Version]