Videodrome: UM, JENNIFER?: Glamour Girl

Words: Ed Osborne Images: Avery Davis

Um, Jennifer? ‘Glamour Girl’ review

Mentions of a promising New-York indie band would usually conjure images from the city’s past – a shadowy portrait of the next Interpol, Strokes, or Talking Heads. With the sheer number of groundbreaking alternative acts the city has produced that’s not surprising, but so often our nostalgia for the past makes us miss what’s going on right in front of us. Um, Jennifer? are turning NYC’s storied indie-punk mold on its head, crafting clever hooks with a far more light-hearted aesthetic and an open, communal spirit.

The duo’s latest single ‘Glamour Girl’, taken from their upcoming EP Girl Class (released April 5th), offers a tantalising glimpse of the world the band inhabits: a welcoming, exuberant, dreamy haze full of characters that refuse to take themselves too seriously. Guitars awash with reverb and chorus layered on top of an upbeat, melodic bassline remind the listener of the languid 2010’s indie-garage of acts like Calpurnia, Twin Peaks, and Mt Eddy, but with slightly more edge thanks to the defeated and slightly dark lyrical subject matter – Eli Scarpati sings of a femme-fatale-esque figure with ‘violent delights’, who both infatuates and ignores him.

The song never gets too dark though; the lyrics, and Eli’s delivery, brings a certain amount of gallows humour that keeps the listener afloat and ensures the song remains bittersweet but not despondent. These impressions are helped by the single’s accompanying music video, which blends an effortless live performance with a hyperbolic enactment of the clingy, co-dependent relationship the song depicts: frontman Eli dresses as a pining dog, following the beck and call of guitarist Fig’s domineering-but-disinterested ‘glamour girl’ persona.

From the carefully thought-out scenery and staging of the music video, to Um, Jennifer?’s cluttered-but-curated Instagram feed, it’s clear that balancing the visual and the musical is important to the band. On April 5th they’re taking this one step further and including the crowd in their aesthetic, with a Jennifer’s Body dress code for their EP release show encouraging ‘blood, guts, and being really really hot’. If I wasn’t across the pond, I’d definitely be there.

A look at the rest of Um, Jennifer’s singles proves ‘Glamour Girl’ isn’t a one off and their EP is one to be excited for; ‘Cut Me Open’ is a more punk-leaning track with lyrics that speak to the band’s love of body horror, and ‘Girl Class’ pokes fun at gender norms, sarcastically asking whether one needs a ‘girl class’ to be taught the intricacies of performative femininity. It seems as if Um, Jennifer? Can write about anything they want to, and do it well – I can’t wait to see what they tackle next on April 5th’s Girl Class EP.