Jellyfish in Space: Review and interview The Shadow/ The Ghost

Clearly, I’m not alone in adoring the laid back, reflective and slightly quirky sounds of West Yorkshire’s Jellyfish In Space (or JIS as they often sign themselves off with). The musical project of Joshua Shannon and Joe Mitchell (and with Alistair Wain providing extra support with drums and production) has been packing in the Spotify listens. Around 200,000 spins have gone this band’s way for their first three releases. I know these lads are popular guys but that’s gotta be punching way more than family and friends.

The Shadow is the first track of the Jellyfish in Space new release (and again has Alistair on drums), and it really shows the diversity and cleverness of this band. There is that complex and catchy tune; here the track is powered through an expansive, lush and bouncy 80’s electronic vibe. It’s almost like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have just zoned in, but complete with vocals which have something of an Ian Curtis vibe.

That contrast of light and dark flows through this tune. As Joe from the band told me: “We like to write songs that play on the lyrics a little bit, like in The Shadow with the sort of contrast of an upbeat happy 80s song with sad lyrics about loneliness”.

The subject of The Shadow feels like something of the opposite to Billy Idol’s Dancing with Myself; there the protagonist danced alone because they liked the hedonistic vibe of doing so, and here, where our central figure is dancing alone because there is no one else to share the moment.

The Ghost is the second track in this duo of new releases. Hard to call it, but I think I admire this track even more. This song retains the JIS chilled and almost shoe gaze understated feel, together with a very tasty bit of guitar work, but it has something more of a folkish feel than previous releases.

If I close my eyes, it’s a sunny evening, there’s a load of us happy and camping in a country field, I’m well fed and dozy and there’s a bottle of beer in my hand. Through the heat haze of the campfire, the lads are gently sharing this tune, guitar in hand. Happy, relaxed and companiable are the words.  

There’s a comfortable charm to the song itself, the lyrics speak of a childhood imaginary friend, and a realisation that as you grow older the comfort friend is slowly fading, and one day will be gone. In vibe, I feel that fans of Cavetown and perhaps the more chilled side of MacMiller and Pink Floyd would seriously vibe here. Even Cat Stevens and Melanie Safka if you want some 60’s references.      

Joe told me: “the lyrics for these songs were made up from me and Josh sat in the garden during lockdown and writing together. The inspiration for our lyrics quite often come from relating emotions and moods we might have been experiencing with strange imaginary concepts and thoughtful metaphors that we sometimes come up with when we’re writing together.

The Ghost is a bit of a narrative of a boy growing up and drifting away from his imaginary friends as he enters the adult world and wondering where do the imaginary friends go?

We found that sort of question quite amusing but also quite sad in a weird way.

I’m always looking out for what might define a particular band and why I admire it so. With Jellyfish in Space, I totally love the way these guys seem to observe and put a twist on something routine. In so doing, they bring out a new, different, or a positive aspect to it. The complexity and tone of the music adds a counterpoint in that its tone might enhance or jar against the overall vibe of the song.

It’s the diversion and relief we need while our nation seems to be slowly messing up. I love political writing, but it can be tough and relentless. That perceptive personal insight that JIS draws out of the minutiae of life is a great antidote to the everyday, even though perversely they are writing about everyday.

Finally, I wanted to ask Joe about their plans for live gigs, as I think hearing these tunes live is going to be so worth looking out for: We’re waiting to get our set nailed before going live (lots of fiddly synth loops and midi stuff needs sorting) but it’s all in the works so hopefully we can be up and running really soon with a pretty unique live sound.

Chris R

* images taken from the band’s social media

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