Butterfly Jones flutters
between flowery lyrics and sweet melodies
By Ellen Simonson
Daily Cougar Staff
Right from the start, the lyrics on Butterfly
Jones' debut album Napalm Springs jump out at the listener.
This band uses the phrases "campground
of my soul," "ashes of desire" and "like blackened doves in the wind" in
the same verse of the first
It's the price you pay for some of the
better verbal constructions on the album, though -- the same song, "Napalm
Springs," contains the words,
"My mind is always racin'/ Through the
gutters of your neighborhood in the stars." Not too bad.
Butterfly Jones as a band sounds like a
lot of things. A little Red Hot Chili Peppers, a little Soundgarden, a
little Guns 'N' Roses -- look for the
influence of just about any seminal rock
band and chances are you'll hear traces of it on Napalm Springs.
The album often ends up sounding like a
palatable but occasionally boring mix of rock greats, but its occasional
moments of originality are
striking enough to compensate.
The band has a talent for catchy choruses
-- "Napalm Springs" and "Anywhere but Now" are good examples. The latter
has a solid pop-rock,
matchbox twenty-ish chorus, is easy to
sing along to and vaguely evocative of some sort of powerful emotion (and
therefore primed for
The love songs on Napalm Springs are generally
not as good lyrically as the others. "Sophie" features the lyrics, "You
are a star that burns too
fast/ I'm so afraid that you won't last."
And "Please" has lyrics so simple they're almost inane -- "Please come
back to me/ I need you/ I need you/
Please come back to me/ I'm so blue/ I'm
Both these songs are much more appealing
when you focus on the music -- "Sophie" is a catchy modern rock track,
and the plaintive, acoustic
sound of "Please" makes the lyrics a little
more palatable. They're not bad songs, but again, the occasional overdone
melodramatic phrase balances out the lyrical
successes on Napalm Springs.
A highlight of the album is the mellow
"It's Cool Dude," which tells the story of a girl who likes to party: "Leopard
eyes and orange streaks/
People say that she's a freak/ Well I
don't know but when she speaks/ It's cool dude." The song goes on to subtly
condemn this kind of
nonchalance: "Sleepin' days workin' nights/
Sweepin' floors fluorescent lights/ Her dreams are drifting out of sight/
But it's cool dude."
An unusual and well-done song on Napalm
Springs is "The Systematic Dumbing Down of Terry Constance Jones." The
song, full of crunchy
guitars and subtle Moogs, tells the story
of a smart woman who sells out: "She used to be a chemist/ Now she wants
to be a clone/ With all her
magazines and TV queens/ she still feels
so alone …" It's one of the catchiest songs on the album; the singer reels
off a list of utterly shallow
concerns quickly and nimbly over escalating
guitars and drums.
A striking thing about Butterfly Jones
is its portrayal of women. Besides "Terry Constance Jones" and "It's Cool
Dude," "Blue Roses" celebrates
the unconventional female with its description
of "Summer girls with strings of pearls/ Dancing on the moon/ Taunting
boys with wanting toys/
To pop their red balloons" before remarking,
"But not my girl … Ain't it funny how things change."
The band's ability to sound like a catchy
compendium of several popular acts works against it most of the time. Butterfly
Jones sounds better
when it's being itself, on songs like
"Terry Constance Jones" and "Please."
Overall, Napalm Springs is an interesting
album. The music is occasionally brilliant and occasionally mediocre; the
lyrics are sometimes
striking and sometimes almost painful.
When it slips up, it's hard to listen to, but when both elements come together
well, Butterfly Jones is a
surprisingly good band.
*** (out of five stars)