Heralding from Bristol and London – guitarist, and singer/songwriter, Finn O’Brien and drummer/brother Elliot O’Brien were both born in London and brought up and schooled in Bristol, before subsequently relocating back to London - the Jacques formed in early 2014 and had already appeared live at the Dot to Dot Festival and GuilFest when a performance at the Hyde Park Festival - with The Libertines - changed their trajectory. Correspondingly, after briefly signing to Libertines’ drummer Gary Powell’s label 25 Hour Convenience Store, the band released their debut four-track Pretty DJ EP in November that year. But their personal journey is a unique tale of triumph over adversity and, like the best kind of drama – and theirs is quite definitely a drama - one of gain through loss.
The Jacques have been variously described as gritty, distorted, lush, dreamy, discordant, infectious, inventive, evocative, romantic and ludicrous, and everything from the “absurd” and “straight up grotesque” to the “tongue in cheek”. They’ve gained the seal of approval from the likes of Steve Lamaq, Don Letts, Huwey Morgan, Huw Stephens, Chris Hawkins and NME. In 2020, The Jacques (now with the backing of Modern Sky) unleashed the fruits of their labours on the world in their debut EP and are gearing up for their debut album. “This is not a normal debut album. We wanted to get it right.” Finn O’Brien
The Four Five Three is a record of remarkable songs hewn from a range of tragically ragged, sweet and tender adolescent experiences you can’t quite believe have been crammed into such a slight number of collective years. But therei lies the rub: The Jacques may have unremarkable musical origins emanating out of the fields and towns of rural England, best visualized in that seminal British comedy This Country, with all the boredoms and eccentricities associated with the social isolation of such communities. But their personal journey is a unique tale of triumph over adversity and, like the best kind of drama – and theirs is quite definitely a drama - one of gain through loss.
The Jacques are Finn O’Brien (voice, guitar), Elliot O’Brien (drums), Harry Thomas (keyboards) and James Lay (bass), although it hasn’t always been this way. Past members include Jake and Oliver Edwards, Clint Trembath and Gabriel Ciechan, but the death of long-term bass player Will J Hicks in March 2019 hit them hard. Relations amongst the previous line-ups had already soured when Finn met Will whilst studying Art at Goldsmiths College in 2016. Initially, Finn and Will didn’t hit it off, but a blossoming close friendship ensued and, together with the addition of Harry on keyboards, a new fuller, less-guitar centric sound emerged. James had already started rehearsing with the four-piece when tragedy struck.
“It was hard,” says Finn now. “We played so many songs with Will that meant such a lot. But we decided to carry on.” James subsequently joined on a permanent basis and The Jacques resumed professional duties as best they could, releasing a series of singles throughout 2019 including the fuzzy post-punk of ‘Kiss The Pharaoh’, which features on The Four Five Three. The song hums and clatters like early-Horrors, yet delivers piercing offhand lyricism which Finn describes as having a, “anarchistic and creepy, nursery rhyme thing going on.”
It’s a track that has propelled them to receive strong support from BBC 6Music with Huw Stephen, Steve Lamacq, Don Letts and Huey Morgan all big fans of the band at. the station. The album also features the recently released single ‘Swift Martin’, a bleak and unnerving track of pulsating synths and distorted guitar lines along with songs. like ‘Cradle My Heart’ – about each of us having our own versions of God – and ‘Holy Mamacita’; a love song with a twist, about letting someone down. However it’s perhaps ‘Hendrik’ and ‘Taste The Mexican Sun’ that showcase The. Jacques at their most sentimental and their most playful. ‘Hendrik’ is the oldest track on the album and was renamed to celebrate one of Finn’s closest friends who hadalways loved the song before he passed away; and ‘Taste The Mexican Sun’ takes its title from a seemingly-meaningless caption Finn and Will noticed on a plastic cup whilst hanging out at a music festival.
Remarkable enough in themselves, they segue effortlessly into the album’s closer, ‘God’s Lick’, a song that evokes bittersweet memories of endless jamming sessions when Will was in the band. It’s a beautifully poignant way to finish this emotional rollercoaster of a record.
1. Born Sore
2. Kiss The Pharaoh
3. Swift Martin
4. Do Me For A Fool
5. The Ugliest Look
6. Count On Me Pt.1
7. Tiny Fuzzy Parasite
9. Count On Me Pt.2
10. Holy Mamacita
12. Taste The Mexican Sun
13. God's Lick