On Frailty, Jane Remover was a voyager sculpting her own cosmos from her childhood bedroom. A frenetic combo of emo, EDM, and idyllic video game tones, the singer-producer’s 2021 debut rendered a cyber otherworld with ultra-blue fjords and bleach-white skies. Within her insular online music scene, it soon became a touchstone. Instead of capitalizing right away, she took some time to hibernate and touch grass, embarking on a cross-country road trip. She said goodbye to the freaky mashup microgenre she dreamt up under an alter ego. She also came out as a trans woman, announcing the name Jane Remover with the release of two songs: the smoky, whimpering ballad “Cage Girl” and “Royal Blue Walls,” which starts wispy and escalates into a delicate squall that felt less digitized than her past work. On her new album, Census Designated, Jane ushers in another evolution of this shoegaze blueprint.
Census Designated hits like a flash flood, following moments of dreamy calm with clattering downpours. It’s a feverish mutation of shoegaze and bedroom pop, anchored by her skills as a producer for sculpting layers that sparkle and mutate. Jane hangs in the storm like an eager specter. Instead of bitcrushing her voice or sampling stock howls like she did on Teen Week, she squeezes more from her own resources to unlock a newly expressive style. The way she weaves lattices of vocal clips and skitters between inflections—breathy sighs, elegant swoons, and desperate, ravenous screams that make her sound possessed—is intoxicating. Her curlicued melodies mirror the lyrical unease and lend baroque detail to songs like “Idling Somewhere” and “Lips.”
The weather patterns on Census Designated move in distinct acts and peak with glorious deus ex sonica noise-drops. Where Frailty’s dense, shiny synths could feel like drowning in pixels, these songs are scratchier and serrated: They crush you slowly and gently. Fuse yeule’s electro-acoustic ballads, Slowdive’s bright crescendos, and the febrile anticipation of Ethel Cain’s “Ptolemaea,” and you get a song like “Video,” which strums for six minutes and then erupts with a lung-tearing scream. “Lips” begins as a willowy whisper of indie balladry. As Jane sings about being someone’s nervous wreck, a semi-acoustic loop tuned like echoing chimes shimmers against a rhythm guitar that churns below the surface. Sure enough, everything warps into an infrared, rock nightmare. Jane’s voice claws through the smoke like a ghostly dagger—imagine My Bloody Valentine commissioned to soundtrack Fatal Attraction. “Take a step back boy/I’m so afraid,” she warns. “You want crazy/I’ll give you insane.”
Census Designated’s long, mountainous unfurling means that sometimes the songs stretch out for too long, and they aren’t stuffed with as much delicious ear candy as on Frailty. But the effect is immersive. As with her vocals, Jane takes a beatmaker’s approach to rock arrangements, sending filtered guitars, computerized burbles, and processed vocal shards flying in and out of focus. When dissonant drones shroud the sparse winter horizon of “Contingency Song,” you can almost feel the chill of its malign fog. The theatrics hit the ceiling on the title track. Engulfed in inferno-rock, Jane sketches a map of mindstates and geographic coordinates (a Marriott, NYC, the top of a mezzanine). She’s worried she’s being lied to and exploited for her age, yet she also delights in the idea of being “young blood, fresh meat.” At the end, a Puce Mary-esque blitz of static and spliced screams sounds like Jane’s being sucked into a sinkhole.
Having experimented with drum n’ bass, ambient, glitch rap, and Jersey club euphoria, why would she choose fiery avant-rock as a primary vehicle? More than any other style, these slow-then-sudden buildups convey the vertiginous emotions she sings about. For every deafening blast, there’s a quiet moment to sober up. When the hurricane clears, Jane turns soft and apologetic, compressing herself to fit in someone’s pocket on highlight “Always Have Always Will.” The intro weaves a single long ahhh that extends like an infinity mirror. Like all the other songs, its five-minute ascent peaks with a crash of fuzz, but this one feels more blissed-out than baleful. As the noise shreds Jane’s voice into glinting husks, she keeps repeating one request: “Just promise you’ll wait for me?” This music represents a decisive step away from the internet-addled hyperactivity of her early work, and Census Designated could be deployed as a dopamine detox regimen, its patiently unraveling compositions an offramp for kids hopelessly addicted to two-minute TikTok hits. It’s also the most poignant and piercing music Jane has made yet: the sound of an artist finally given the tools to realize her ever-expanding vision.