The Gray in Between
ABOVE THE CURRENT
Lest there be any doubt that hardcore is having its moment in the sun again, we already have a punk-rock masterpiece on our hands this year, courtesy of San Francisco’s Jeromes Dream. The East Coast outfit’s second LP since reuniting for their first new release in nearly two decades back in 2019, The Gray in Between is a record with a massive sound, a lot of melodies, and an impressive amount of experimentation that edges into crust territory. And yet, in accomplishing all those feats, Jeromes Dream keeps the 10-song record to a tight 25 minutes.
Vocalist/bassist Jeff Smith, guitarist Sean Leary, and drummer Erik Ratensperger sound younger and hungrier than when they originally played in the late-’90s. By mixing tones, textures, and time signatures, Jeromes Dream have concocted a luscious, irresistible, unpretentious punk-rock sound. In the bat of an eye, the band’s forays into quieter territory are abruptly interrupted by the more pressing desire to play their asses off. Every song is worth applauding here, even if it’s what they accomplish over the course of the entire record that causes the most jaws to drop. The Gray in Between has it all, really: skronky, snarly punk (“Stretched Invisible From London”), adrenalized melodies (“South by Isolation”)—even a pretty instrumental ditty (“Often Oceans”) (as if he were making Rolos, Leary tucks two soaring post-rock passages into the former two songs).
In terms of mere production alone, we’re able to Jeromes Dream in their truest form here. For this record, they enlisted Jack Shirley, producer of Deafheaven’s Sunbather (speaking of which, the band even polish their nails with a few swipes of black metal on “On Holiday with Infinity”). No one who recorded the band prior captured Jeromes Dream in all its glory. Shirley, who also mixed and mastered the effort, captured the magic of Jeromes Dream and, in so doing, breathed new life into the band. Together they arrived at a sound that’s much clearer than what was heard on their previous three releases. In combining unbridled bombast with quieter forays into technical performance—think Sonic Youth or Nux Vomica—these songs don’t deserve any muddiness.
With that in mind, it’s very easy to get instantly hooked on Jeromes Dream. Get bit by the Gray in Between bug, and you’ll have each song on the record stuck in your head for at least two weeks. It takes decades for some bands, without even taking any hiatuses, to reach a level this high. Hopefully Jeromes Dream remembers that the next time they discuss a possible breakup—and that, when it comes time to have that discussion, their audience will have quadrupled in size.