Album Cover


Jerskin Fendrix stands at an awkward midpoint between two of the UK’s most exciting musical scenes. On one side is the ‘Brixton Windmill’ scene, an equally awkward categorisation that includes artists that Jerskin has previously collaborated with including Black Midi and Black Country, New Road, as well as HMLTD. These purveyors of angular and at times ramshackle art-rock are some of the most exciting live acts to have blossomed in the last few years of the 2010s, yet their recorded output has rarely captured the full appeal of their onstage performances.

On the other side is PC Music, the ultra-synthetic brand of pop music that delivers daringly basic hooks with a high-concept outlook. In contrast to the Brixton Windmill scene, when concerning PC Music it is undoubtedly the recorded material that is to date the bigger draw, with artists such as AG Cook, Hannah Diamond and GFOTY having created some of the best pure pop would-be-hits of the last few years, whilst the transitions to live performance have often been found wanting.

Winterreise is much stronger when Jerskin leans towards the sound of the latter scene. Second track ‘Onigiri’ is not as rigidly crafted as the music made by members of said scene often is, but it is a saccharine sugar-rush of synths and autotuned vocals that is just as catchy and in fact it benefits from its odd imperfection. The album closer ‘Oh God’ is similarly appealing and even more human, with Jerskin’s opening line of “Its getting crowded in here, I pick the skin off my lips” creating a contrast with the simple digital melodies that underpins it. It is a contrast that draws the two scenes close together.

Not everything on Winterreise can be attributed to these two scenes however. It is an album that has a much greater scope, and has reference points that are too numerous to list even when only considering the lyrical content. Truthfully, it will probably have as great a scope as any other album released in 2020, and how much you enjoy the album as a whole will probably depend on how much you generally appreciate an album for its scope over the other qualities that it possesses.

For there are many moments where Winterreise is more frustrating than fascinating. Most of them are within the first third of the album, which at a time where people are likely to tune out of something they are streaming if it doesn’t immediately grab them is worthy of respect in a way. Either side of the aforementioned ‘Onigiri’ is a wallpaper piano piece that gives way to half-decipherable auto-tuned spoken word vocals and two minutes of background noise. Both of these moments eventually burst into life, but until they do it is a challenging listen.

Much more rewarding is the album’s midpoint, ‘A Star Is Born’, which would have no doubt been an indie floor filler fifteen years ago. Jerskin’s sardonic self-referential wordplay is at its best here. The line “my voice ain’t the best you’ve heard, but my nails are perfect” practically beds for knowing nods across the dancefloor, whilst “If 2018 is the year of fear I think its going pretty well for the most of us” dates the song in a way that somewhat suits it. Windmill compatriots HMLTD, whose own debut album release felt two years too late, are a great point of reference here, and the long-forgotten Lansing-Dreiden and Late Of The Pier are too.

Judged in its absolute entirety Winterreise is more of an impressive debut offering than it is an enjoyable one, but there is plenty to pick at and plenty to suggest there is more to come from Jerskin Fendrix.


Winterreise is released on 17th April 2020

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.