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First Watch: Adult Jazz, 'Earrings Off!'

The Leeds-based band Adult Jazz released one of 2014's most surprising records, an ear-candy mix of warped sounds, disjointed melodies and fractured beats. Now the group is back with an equally captivating follow-up and a new video for the album's title track, "Earrings Off!" The song and album are both largely about gender identity, a theme the group also explored on its 2014 record, Gist Is.

"It's about an idealized gender archetype that we all carry around in the back of our minds," singer Harry Burgess tells NPR Music in an email. "Even to subvert it, the archetype has to be firmly present in you. No one is immune to gender shame. Immunity is curated and learnt, and often arrived at intellectually through lots of unlearning. It's hard to surpass the pretty brutal conditioning of infants and children that we all sanction in the name of binary gender! What would you be like if you weren't told you were a boy or girl?"

In the video, directed by Sam Travis, a cluster of beefy, gold-plated statues slowly rotates, mouthing the words to the song. It's a simple but mesmerizing, almost hypnotic image. The longer you watch the more surreal it gets. "It's a bit like Greek statues and a bit like trophies for young athletes," says Travis. "They're the things that enshrine and embody a really stereotypical maleness, but they're trapped and confused, singing a song for a future without those things."

Earrings Off! is due out May 20 on Tri Angle records. "Earrings Off!" is the second song and video the band has released from the new record. The video for the first single, "Eggshell," also featured a strangely animated, statuesque figure mouthing all the words.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.