Wednesday, 4 May 2011

EP Review: Johnny Foreigner – Certain Songs Are Cursed

Released: 18th April
Label: Alcopop! Records

You can't buy it any more, because it sold out on pre-orders (you can still download it from the usual - itunes, amazon etc) but this latest EP from Johnny Foreigner (their second for Alcopop!) comes on the underside of a Frisbee. It's amazing and another demonstration of why Alcopop! is at the forefront of pop music innovation. But release format aside, is the music any good?

Well, yes. Of course it is. Johnny Foreigner haven't let us down yet and they're not about to start now.

The short and sweet EP begins with the sound of a drum machine, but rather than being Salt, Peppa & Spinderella Mk II the band swing fully into the trademark punk that we know and love them for. 'What Drummers Get' is Johnny Foreigner at their most Johnny Foreigner. With the brilliant lyric “I'm half the man you think I could have been” they demonstrate how they've captured our hearts and won't ever let go. Again, Kelly plays a full role on vocals, complimenting Alexei's semi-incomprehensible treatment of the lyrics

As much as it's easy to get caught up in the vocal and musical interplay between Alexei and Kelly, it needs mentioning that the band wouldn't be who and what they are without ace drummer Junior. His individual style of drumming holds the whole thing together when disparate elements threaten it's collapse in on itself. Take 'Twin Sisterzz' for example. It's pretty chaotic with catchy pop verses and snappier punk thrusts but finds the time and space for a'capella harmonising and additional keyboard textures. Anything less that brilliance on Junior's behalf would mean it's a mess. It's superb. But it's not the best moment on the EP.

No, the highlight here is 'Johnny Foreigner Vs You (Cursed Version)' which sees Alexei and a piano backed by delicate harmonies from Kelly. The tape fuzz over the recording just adds to the tugging at the heartstrings. It sounds weary in the way we all feel from time to time and is indicative of how unjust the world is that JoFo don't get the attention that they deserve.

'Certain Songs' closes ...Are Cursed and is another of Johnny Foreigner's acoustic beauties. Fading to a haze as a spoken word sample discusses the crux of the song. Taking the reverse of the theme The Hold Steady explored on their track of the same name, it's about the music that etches itself into our being despite our hatred or indifference. It's for those of us who had shit times as teenagers sound-tracked by sappy radio pop that keeps coming back to us. “You had your worst ever heartbreak to fucking 'Run' by fucking Snow Patrol”.

I've said it before but it warrants mentioning again. Johnny Foreigner are basically the best band in the world. We're really lucky to have them. So if yr reading this guys then thanks. And I'm sorry that I can't do yr music justice with my words.

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