‘Peanut Butter‘, Cardiff five-piece Joanna Gruesome‘s second LP, has arrived under different circumstances to their criminally underrated first, ‘Weird Sister‘. With much more glare from the music media on the DIY communities that are fashioning from the template that bands such as JG have moulded, it would be understandable for said groups to have wanted to evade the pervading spotlight and hidden under the proverbial rock. Yet Joanna Gruesome have found themselves a suitable medium, using select media as a positive outlet for their views whilst sticking to their stout ethos, not just further cementing the strength of their work through exposure but displaying morally virtuous personalities behind the music. ‘Last Year’, the new single released following the announcement of the new record, gives indication of the band’s direction going forward.
Whats evident from first listen is the development in tone that the band have nurtured. There’s no change behind the scenes, with MJ of Hookworms again taking on production duties to successful effect and the belief in their ability from labels Fortuna Pop! and Slumberland means its the bands growth that is easy to hear. Each guitar line from Owen Williams and George Nicholls remains wired and pleasingly erratic, but is much more controlled and adds an extra element of cohesive energy to the band as a whole.
The production, although perhaps not on first listen, has a telling clarity that favourably defines each melody that has always been a staple part of the JG sound. Each jangly guitar line through the choruses are almost rapturous, that along with Williams and Alanna McArdle’s familiar harmonies simply typifies the group’s ability to provide some of the most encompassing hooks. Their interchange between brutally wrenching noise and sweetly touching pop becomes more and more absorbing, the erratic nature of the verses making the beauty of each chorus more realised.
McArdle is reliably defiant and incensed in her vocal, the repeated bawl of “I will not”, riving in confrontation. The almost sickly humourous delivery of “silently wanna go / silently murder you all” in such hushed, pleasant tones exhibits McArdle’s wit laden intelligence that singles out JG from their contemporaries.
A track that doesn’t hang around, Joanna Gruesome cram hooks and tone changes till it’s fit to burst within a pop-timeframe, yet in no way does it feel rushed. ‘Peanut Butter’ looks set to be a touch-stone record for encompassing and astute noise-pop.