Record #395: The Juliana Theory – Love (2002)

As I’ve said a few times before, music is my most powerful mnemonic. A few albums are completely stuck in a specific place in time, with their own scenes and smells irrevocably attached.

This is one of those albums. It came out the same time that I started driving, and this CD (alternating with So Long Astoria) was stuck in the CD player in my mom’s Chrysler Town and Country minivan. It was a rainy month, so the smell of damp constantly filled the car…
​The Juliana Theory had already had a significant influence on me as a person—they taught me to sing and dress. Love doubled down on that. It wasn’t as personally revelatory as Understand This is a Dream, but it didn’t have to be. It asserted itself as a masterpiece upon first listen.

And it holds up. From the opening riffage of “Bring it Low” to the blissful balladry of “Jewel to Sparkle” to the epic rock sprawl of “Everything,” TJT didn’t waste a single second of tape on this record. Every track is a gold mine. 

The reason it’s most effective is most likely because, despite being the standard bearers of the emocore, Bret, Chad, and the Joshes* frequently reached outside of its (somewhat narrow) palette. This record frequently dips into Floydish prog (”In Coversation” and “The Hardest Things”), emotive classic rock (”Shell of a Man”), U2 arena rock (”Trance,” ”Do You Believe Me?” and frequent electronic textures (the remake of ”Into the Dark,” “DTM”).

All of this makes an album that sounds way more timeless and relevant than a record a couple months from its fifteenth anniversary. 

*on this album, THREE of the five members were named Josh

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