Of all the relics of Britrock’s 2000s halcyon days, InMe feel like a band who realistically shouldn’t have lasted as long as they have. That’s not to denigrate the efforts of a band who’ve well and truly bucked against the notion of playing to fads as a sustainable way forward (and getting actual charting songs in the process), but compared to the likes of Hundred Reasons or Hell Is For Heroes that have ran with the nostalgia bone as far as they have, that’s never been a factor with InMe. In a way, they’ve become like The Wildhearts in the way they’ve eased back from the spotlight but remained a consistent presence within the scene, but even then InMe’s net level of quality not being quite as high has led them to feel like part of the furniture in a way that’s not entirely complimentary. And yet, there’s a ubiquity to them that has to be respected, and while Jumpstart Hope couldn’t feel less like an essential release in 2020, InMe’s longevity and scene stalwart status ultimately speaks for itself when it comes to new albums.
And besides, InMe are too deep into things now to be at a point where they’ll release anything awful. Jumpstart Hope might be a little tepid and boring, sure, but it’s not a terrible effort, and for those who’ve stuck around with this band for this long, this isn’t going to disappoint too much as more of the same. That’s not exactly high praise though, as sticking to their guns as rigidly as they do here doesn’t feel like the most auspicious move for InMe to make if leaving a lasting impression was the overall goal. For some straight-down-the-middle alt-rock it doesn’t offend, but you almost start wishing it would if only to facilitate some sort of response.
To be fair though, if Jumpstart Hope does one thing extremely right, it’s show that InMe have a much better grasp of dynamics within alt-rock than many of their contemporaries and, indeed, many that followed them. There’s a cinematic edge to Blood Orange Lake and Clear History that has the radio-readiness that once saw this band become the unlikely hitmakers they once were, but the hints of progressiveness in the surging guitars with some surprisingly robust production feel potent regardless of not coming together all the way. Foundationally, there’s a fair bit that’s alright with Jumpstart Hope, from a focus on melody that’s always been InMe’s strongest quality right from the start, to a malleability in Dave McPherson’s vocals that, amongst themes of self-doubt and overtaking vices on a track like The Next Song, have the making of something really solid if used in the right way.
But that’s where the crucial flaw lies – far too regularly, it doesn’t feel as though Jumpstart Hope uses them in the right way. The connective tissue of these pieces is too thin and threadbare to come together effectively, and it makes for an album that, while impressively sized, has trouble with doing a whole lot with it. The vocals are probably hit the hardest in this regard, sounding fine (if a little dated) when McPherson sticks with his heavily-accented bellows, but an already weedy falsetto can be drowned out to almost inaudibility at times like on Blood Orange Lake, or on Ancestry, mangled into a scraping tone to presumably complement the acoustic backing, but ending up sounding really rough. As for the instrumentation, there’s at least something that can be gleaned from every track here, but with cuts like the glossy, Feeder-esque indie-rock of For Something To Happen or the general facelessness of The Leopard, there’s not too much beyond the odd motif or riff that’s still pretty fleeting. It means that very little sticks as a whole, and as a result Jumpstart Hope just feels pretty inconsequential as an album. It’s definitely not bad, and the seeds are certainly there and beginning to sprout, but at the same time, InMe aren’t applying their ideas to have much staying power, and it shows in as quickly as this album dips out of memory.
That’s kind of a constant with InMe albums these days though, and a slight consolation is that Jumpstart Hope really isn’t considerably worse than most of what’s preceded it. It’ll likely still be consigned as some start-of-year shovelware in twelve months’ time, but it’s far from a disaster considering what it could’ve been, and it doesn’t do anything that’ll deter those in it for the long haul. It’s just that for anyone outside of that group, InMe aren’t producing music that’s all that thrilling or captivating, more so something to fill a hole until virtually anything else comes out in the next week or so. It might feel like a rather flippant judgement, but Jumpstart Hope isn’t something that lends itself to analysis deeper than that, nor does it do enough to warrant trying too much.
For fans of: Fightstar, We Are The Ocean, Exit Ten
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Jumpstart Hope’ by InMe is released on 17th January on Killing Moon Records.