Easy second album from noise pop quintet
As previously noted great seconds albums can be a bugger to pull off. You can either totally change your sound like the Horrors, but you run the risk of alienating your original fan base. Or you could do what Joanna Gruesome have done with their second album and don’t really change anything. Through frenetic touring since their 2013 debut Weird Sister, they have honed their sound and style down, so that their second album Peanut Butter is basically Weird Sister 2.0.
Opening track Last Year picks up where Weird Sister left off. Actually that’s not internally true, Last Year sounds like the Ramones fronted by a falsetto Debbie Harry, compared to the ‘slower’ grunge influenced tracks of the debut. To call it incendiary doesn’t really do the word justice. In-fact it does so little justice that Last Year is offended to be classed in the same category as anything labeled incendiary. Jamie (Luvver) is the next track to make an appearance. Like Last Year it comes rocketing out of the traps, and at one minute forty-one it’s one of the shortest songs on the album. Again the Ramones can be felt on this track. The guitars sound downstroked, the drums are tight and Alanna McArdle’s vocals are lithe and vivacious. There is No Function Stacy takes its foot off the gas, but not by much, and takes a slightly more melodic road. The harmonies work beautifully and really showcase Joanna Gruesome’s ability to not just make a racket, but to be able to construct songs that take you on a journey, rather than pummel you into submission.
Side B starts with a maelstrom of drums, feedback and loops. When I Don’t Want to Relax gets going it’s a classic pop song, disguised as punk banger. This is the crux of the album. Joanna Gruesome write amazing pop songs, but play them at breakneck speed and hide them under layers of noise and feedback. Jerome (Liar) has a jaunty guitar riff, part Brit-Pop part shoegazing, for the verses and an explosion of melody and harmonies for the chorus. Is this a thinly veiled attack on the History of Apple Pie’s main axe and word man? I guess we’ll never know, but it’s still a great track! As with Weird Sister the final track goes against the run of play. Instead of being Ramones-esque, it’s a slow burning quiet number. After playing the previous nine tracks and hearing Hey! I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend. It reminds me of walking for a taxi after a night an indie disco. Your ears are still ringing, you have that feeling of being flushed that only comes after you’ve been somewhere hot and having a good time and you can’t quite feel the cold through your warm jacket yet. Through this moment of quiet meditation, you can start to take on board what you’ve just heard.
Basically it’s like Weird Sisters, but six minutes shorter and the songs are better! If this pattern continues the next album should be out in eighteen months and will clock in at sixteen minutes. While I relish this prospect, try and keep it above twenty minutes though, yeah?