I am sad to report that the second Jules and the Polar Bears album, Fenêtîks (Phonetics) is not as good as its predecessor. It’s not Jules Shear. The songs are as great as ever. I’m sure the record company went to the band and said, “The first album didn’t sell well, so let’s add a bunch of synthesizers!” Not that they needed the push. A very young Stephen Hague was just waiting to do that. And clearly, Shear himself was kind of clueless about production. But he did learn that less is more, and it isn’t surprising that he went on to be one of the main people behind MTV Unplugged.
Another problem is throughout Fenêtîks (Phonetics), there just seems to be too much production. And that is just a problem when you the core of band is one of the greatest living songwriters. So I’m going to offer up a song that actually sounds more typical of Got No Breeding, “Fate.” There are some others that are strong — or at least that’s how I remember them. But not much off this album is available on the internet. So we are stuck with “Fate.” And that isn’t bad, because the song really does work.
The melody is attractive, if perhaps too forceful. And the lyrics are typically clever, with things like, “You cut off your nerves just to spite your love.” Check it out.