Jun 26, 2018
JACK RIVER - SUGAR MOUNTAIN
Sugar Mountain is a phosphorescent album. It seems to glow with pop highs and spacey riffs, but come closer and you’ll glimpse the darkness in its depths. The first clue is in the title, says Holly Rankin. Sugar Mountain is named after Neil Young’s bittersweet ode to youth and the loss of innocence. As Rankin explains it, “It’s the souvenir of my youth, the wish of what it could have been.”
Jack River, the singer-songwriter who broke through in 2016 with the EP Highway Songs No 2, and the single ‘Fool’s Gold’. But eleven years ago, a tragedy fractured Rankin’s psyche when her beloved younger sister died instantly in a freak accident.
Rankin found herself adrift, and songwriting became not so much catharsis as a survival tool. With such a painfully personal story to tell, it was vital to Rankin that she find the right team. In I OH YOU she found a label she could trust with her mission of creating a world-class pop with heart. Rankin wrote, produced and performed each song, working only with co-producers and multi-instrumentalists Xavier Dunn and John Castle. Visionary mixer Spike Stent (Beyoncé, Grimes, Frank Ocean, Madonna), shellacked the tracks with an iridescent sparkle. The result is some of the most ambitious psych-pop that Australia has produced.
Rankin’s alter ego, Jack River, is imagined as a drifter who bridges eras, genres and dimensions. Perhaps that’s because part of Rankin has been preserved in amber at the age she was when her sister died. Jack allows her the freedom to time travel. She’s noticed that elements of the music she loved as a 14-year-old have crept into Sugar Mountain: gritty guitars from the early 2000s, the “candy chorus vocals” of Gwen Stefani, and the almost parental influences of Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell.
Sugar Mountain is out now.