If you thought Jason Bajada suffered for his art before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Yes, 2009’s Loveshit was gut-wrenchingly sad at parts, and clearly autobiographical, but the first video from his new album The Sound Your Life Makes is enough to make you shudder and turn away.
Last time, love kicked Bajada’s ass. His pain was emotional. Psychological. Existential. This time around there’s no metaphor—Bajada’s the victim a blitzkrieg attack by celebrated Quebec comedian Marc Labrèche. The assault in the video for “Down With The Protest” is savage and extreme, and leaves Bajada bloodied and incapacitated.
As a piece of art, it’s bracing, shocking and bizarre. Yet that’s not representative of The Sound Your Life Makes, perhaps the most unexpected album of the year.
Loveshit was a breakup album qua breakup album, a collection of songs that chronicled very personal love loss. The Sound Your Life Makes is detached from that, a varied and mature pop record representative of Bajada’s organic growth as a musician and as a man. It’s a glimpse of someone relocating himself and forcing himself to see the sun—sometimes.
“The new album is about rolling out of bed after the hangover,” he says. “You might still have a headache. You might fall in love. You might be too careful. You might discover truth and spirituality in comedy and science. You might find comfort in travel. You might learn that what you thought was love wasn’t at all. You might also get your ass kicked again and again.”
Juxtaposing Bajada’s trademark sad bastardry with warmer, more melodic songs—witness the steady momentum of “Pain’s A Pet” and the “Paris Blues”—The Sound Your Life Makes is as varied as life itself. On it, Bajada explores a panoply of moods, and writes songs about the depth and breadth of his experience. And for some of his favourites, he is our guide.
PARIS BLUES: “Melodically and structurally,” Bajada says, “it’s the weirdest song I’ve ever recorded. To me it’s the Dears getting into a fight with Belle & Sebastian with the latter prevailing using nothing but lush love.”
HOW’D MY HEART GET CAUGHT: “I don’t think I’ve ever come closer to ‘four chords and the truth’ than this,” Bajada says, before showcasing some of the light wit that is all over the new record. “I feel like this song already existed and I’m about to get seriously sued.”
THE WOMAN YOU LOVE BUT YOU HURT: This is, in Bajada’s mind, “a song about letting someone down and nothing being able to repair it. A song about losing someone you love’s trust, which is one of the most devastating things anyone can live through.”
If this all sounds a little bit uneven, that’s because it is. Bajada found a way to make peace with writing a very free record.
“There were absolutely no rules” he imposed on himself. “You want to sing like the Bee Gees on this chorus? Go ahead! You want to have a country tune to follow a beat-oriented track? Have fun!”
Clearly, this is not the Jason Bajada from Loveshit. It’s also not someone else, either. As with its predecessor, The Sound Your Life Makes shows Jason Bajada to be one of Canada’s most talented pop craftsmen; that he can combine meandering melancholy and defiant enthusiasm is proof enough of that.
“I’ve got something to give” goes the repeated refrain on “Carlin.” Doubtless, all kinds of listeners will invariably find out that on The Sound Your Life Makes, Bajada most certainly does.