What’s the best thing about listening to records? There are a million and one answers to that in fairness, but of all the things that keep drawing you back in, that first got you hooked, it’s got to be the pure and simple joy of it. That feeling you get when a favourite tune comes crackling into life. The smile that melts across your face when the groove kicks in and the chorus tumbles out of the speakers. That love at first sight moment when someone digs out a tune they think you might be into. The knowledge that whatever’s going on outside, in here it’s going to be alright.
“It’s like I’ve always said…” notes 77:78 co-founder Aaron Fletcher “…music is the healer.”
A little bit of healing is just what the world needs now wouldn’t you say? Rejoice then; on Jellies, 77:78 have captured those feelings of joy, melted them down and set them into eleven aural treats packed with psychic projections of good vibes, wide-eyed melodies and grooves that burrow themselves right into your bone marrow.
Discerning music lovers will know Fletcher as the co-captain of Isle of Wight psychedelic adventurers The Bees. In the seven years since their last album, as life did what it does when you’re busy making other plans, Fletcher kept on doing what he’d always done: playing records, writing tunes and doing a bit of recording. With The Bees on extended shore leave, he hooked up with fellow Bee Tim Parkin to work on the music that would become Jellies.
“The last Bees album came out in 2010 and this one’s taken about four years to record,” says Tim Parkin. “We’ve been chomping at the bit. We’ve all had kids and got married and are doing the family thing, but the itch hasn’t gone away: I still love making music, songwriting, producing, getting in the studio. Aaron and me were like, ‘Whoo hoo! There’s still some legs in us, let’s fucking go for it!’”
Crate diggers and music nuts to the man, listening to the albums Fletcher and Parkin made as part of The Bees was always like staying up with a mate who had a mind-blowing record collection playing you all the best bits. It’s a spirit they’ve kept alive with 77:78. There might be similar cards involved, but the deck’s been shuffled and a different hand has been dealt with them. Cock an ear and there’s snatches of the fried, post-sandbox loveliness of The Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile to be found; the clatter of King Tubby’s junkyard dub here and there; a little of the childlike playfulness of early Syd Barret and a gentle seabreeze of sublime West Coast harmonies blowing in. There’s even a bit of subtle disco groove pulsating within it.
“Some musicians and bands definitely have their sound and stick to it, which is fair enough, but that’s just not us. Whenever we’re in the studio we’re constantly inspired to go down different musical paths, which I suppose is why the record we’ve made sounds so diverse. “
Crucially though, the outcome is something that is 100% Fletcher and Parkin’s. From the soft-focus, melodic love bomb of opener If I’m Anything To You, Jellies welcomes you into its own singular universe. There’s the sundazed, Balearic shimmy of Love Said (Let’s Go) emptying the sand out of its dancing shoes before dipping into woozy underwater exotica of Poor It Out. Look up and you can catch the gorgeous chorus that floats above Paper’s Joe Meek in deep space blip and ping, and then lose yourself in the loose-limbed shuffle of Copper Nail that was recorded – as was much of the record – in an old water tank once belonging to Queen Victoria.
Flip Jellies over and you’ve got even more grin-inducing gems and tiny details to delight in. The sparkling keyboards that glisten through ESTWD’s blissed out fantasia, the mariachi horns seeing out Chilli’s Tex Mex conga line, the
skanking gonzo rave up that morphs into a dazzling technicolour sunset on album closer Wagons… we could go on, but really you may as well just dive in for yourself right now and enjoy it.
“There’s an absolute joy to this and we really want to capitalise on that. We’re more happy than we’ve have ever been and we want people to see that there’s a lot of fun here,” states Fletcher. “77:78 is a beautiful vehicle and me and Tim want to give it a roll and see what happens.”
Do yourself a favour, get on board and get the Jellies in.