If there was anything I can say about Cyanide Valentine’s very first album Let it Rot, it was this: I wasn’t ready.
Cyanide Valentine came at a time where I was deep into the search for some local music. Outside of checking out some obscure music everywhere else, it has made me curious to find out what great music had been banging in my state, maybe in my town specifically.
The first time I have met Jake Zavracky’s music was through his band Quick Fix, which disbanded around the time I caught up with them and many other Boston acts. Pieces of lyrics read “I’m sick of all my friends and my friends are sick of me.” “I should have left here long ago/I feel incarcerated”. I was introduced to a man that, if you met him in a bar, you should not fuck around with him. All the anger he has inside, he might end you.
I read in The Noise that he was doing an electronic pop band to which I jumped aboard easy, and honestly, I wasn’t surprised at the tone of Let it Rot, but what I didn’t know is that this album is a snakebite towards the uninitiated. It’s the clear sound of Zavracky kicking people around and sneering at a world that threw him to the side and made him seem like nothing important. When he isn’t eviscerating the easily swayed and the sociopaths of politics and media (“Natural Born Liar”) and selfish girlfriends (“You Don’t Really Love Me”), he is blocking himself from society as a means to dismiss anyone else who might hurt him further. (“Number Four”, the antisocial closer “Deeper”) Yeah, Zavracky might have come off as an asshole, but it was only out of protection for and, perhaps, from himself.
The Three Sides of Cyanide Valentine, his second album under neath the name, finds a whole new feeling: it’s still the Jake Zavracky show with various other supporting people, but his us and them motif had a little bit of peace to it. Rather than telling the world to fuck off and die, it seemed like he was content to simply shake his head and just walk away.
The Three Sides of Cyanide Valentine doesn’t conform to a specific sound. When Jake doesn’t take on blue-eyed soul, he makes folktronica, dream pop and electronic music. It’s one of the most diverse albums he has released, and is yet the most cohesive. Where Jake felt content with telling the world to just “tie his legs in a knot, walk away and let him rot”, he is found confronting a blackened heart with delicate vocals (Nosferatu), welcoming company (“Ghsots of Boston”) and resorts to daydreaming through tracks (“Nice and Horrorshow”, which boasts a cinematic glam rock stomp right in the middle of cloudy dream synths). The Three Sides of Cyanide Valentine was a genrehopper of refuge and resolve.
It meant a lot when Jake told us during the beginning of selling this that he encouraged us to have this for free. As it stands, it’s a free Bandcamp project. But it will behoove you to not think that after this (and fruitful shows and fans in Germany), he has stopped making music. Since this, he has worked in New York doing music, been in and out of bands and after quitting for awhile, found his own success in a new dream pop band The Dream Eaters, in which two of the songs from this album were revisted and recreated with new singer Elizabeth LeBaron. (Others were recreated song from his solo “obscure” EPs). Though, if you were to pick an album that was the most responsible for guiding him towards the sound he is doing now (including one where he took on a soul album on Z+A), The Three Sides of Cyanide Valentine is it.
Your 76th favorite black Aspergian musical polymath (Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, blogger, producer, poet) from Boston.