Artist: The Jigsaw Seen
Album: ...for the Discriminating Completist
Label: Burger Records
Release Date: 01/27/2017
Sacred cows have never been safe around The Jigsaw Seen. Making a moody, noisy art-rock squall of Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk” for their 1996 album Shots in the Dark, they rendered it unrecognizable, much like their fuzzed-out, effervescent makeover of the famed torch song “The Best is Yet to Come,” transformed into a powerful surge of sunny garage-rock vitality and mischief.
These are two of the four covers on The Jigsaw Seen for the Discriminating Completist: Rarities and Singles 1989-2015, a 12-track odds-and-sods career retrospective of sorts that gathers up as many stray dogs from their recording history as possible and gives them a warm, rich remastering shampoo to boot. Full of surprises, at least to those who haven’t followed the Los Angeles act’s every move lo these many years, the eclectic set includes rare versions of eight originals immaculately crafted to achieve ’60s-inspired power-pop nirvana or something close to it.
Spirited joy rides such as “Celebrity Interview” and “Jim is the Devil,” with their undeniable hooks and engaging, jaunty melodies, have their routes all mapped out and get where they’re going without asking for directions. Warm psychedelia gushes from “We Women” – sitar oscillating to dizzying, dreamy effect. Like The Who scoring “Lawrence of Arabia,” The Jigsaw Seen stampede through the sweeping Middle Eastern-flavored epic “My Name is Tom,” part of the 2005 Rhino box set Children of Nuggets. And while their soft, misty rendition of Love’s “Luci Baines” is imbued with stark, exquisite melancholy, it’s their swooning, bittersweet take on The Bee Gees’ “Melody Fair” – swaying like a tire swing and lightly candied in Bandwagonesque-era Teenage Fanclub’s sugary distortion – that’s protective of a past they’re obviously fond of, while still sounding modern and fresh. Therein lies the casual, almost effortless genius of The Jigsaw Seen.