The buzz surrounding Jett Rebel has been echoing around for over a year now. Two adequate but far from sensational EP’s hardly justify the excessive attention given to Jett Rebel a.k.a. Jelte Tuinstra, a 23 year old musician from The Hague. Especially the patronage by Holland’s most important talk-show De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD) has done Jett Rebel no harm. Personally I wasn’t too impressed with his performances in DWDD and whether or not induced by hallucinogenic drugs, the hollowness of the interviews given by Tuinstra bothered me. It all seemed rather artificial to me and that’s the one thing that puts me off.
It’s more because of the extreme reactions that Jett Rebel provokes (varying from journalists calling him the greatest musical talent that our country has ever produced to journalist calling him the greatest inflated musical hype in Dutch history) than his music that I decided to review the man’s debut, Hits For Kids. The album leaves little doubt about what Jett Rebel’s main influences are. He obviously knows the complete oeuvre of Prince by heart and the solo albums of Paul McCartney also seem to have been imprinted in great detail into the musical memory of Jett Rebel. Remarkably, he displays a preference for the less groundbreaking and more kitschy material of these artists and their contemporaries that at one time have modernized popular music.
Every time I listen to Hits for Kids I ask myself the three following questions:(1) have heard some truly great pop songs? (2) have I heard something I haven’t heard before? (3) I have heard some truly authentic creative ideas? Time and time again I have to conclude that the answer to the first of two of these three questions is ‘no’. Very few of the songs on Hits For Kids leave a lasting impression and most of the associations they evoke are with the more embarrassing moments in the careers of Prince and McCartney. If the answer to the third question wasn’t a convincing ‘Yes, loads’ then Hits For Kids would not be worth a button. Instead, it crackles with cool inventions, surprising turns, fine riffs and fragments of potentially brilliant verses and choruses that could only have sprung from the creative mind of a great musicial talent. Not quite yet a genius who knows how to mould all this creativity into a good pop music, but even Prince ever needed six years to go from the dramatically poor For You to Purple Rain and even McCartney needed a few years playing in a band before he could deliver an amazing solo debut. That said, Jett Rebel’s patches of brilliancy on his debut are not enough to convince me that we are dealing with the most promising Dutch musician of recent years. I will give judgment after the difficult second.
This review was adapted from a review in Dutch on Krenten Uit de Pop.
Mild and respectful as Erwin is, in this particular case I have the need to add a short personal note to his review and that is that Hits For Kids contains some of the crappiest music I’ve heard all year or any year for that matter. It’s proving once more that there’s nothing wrong the Dutch music scene, but that’s there’s everything wrong with the industry people who ought to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and to cherish and promote the former and to leave the latter to the likes of Mathijs van Nieuwkerk.