Friday, November 11, 2011

Album Review: Johnny Foreigner - Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything

Album Rating: C
As far as confrontational album titles go, Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything ranks pretty highly, and as anyone who has heard the band before would expect, the music within very much follows suite. For the past four of five years, the Birmingham three-piece have steadily built a strong underground following with their sporadic and excitable brand of indie pop. Comparisons to fellow Brits Los Campesionos! have followed them throughout that period, but JF have always delivered a far more spontaneous racket, and have developed a handy habit of encasing brilliantly catchy melodies in amongst their waves of (mostly) controlled chaos.

In that sense, Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything mostly represents more of the same. Vocalists Alexei Berrow and Kelly Southern continue to feed off of each other's leads like a pair of hyperactive toddlers while drummer Junior Laidley contributes to their typically unpredictable instrumental mess. It's a formula which can prove a little hit-and-miss, but there are numerous instances on this record such as 'if im the most famous boy you’ve fucked then honey yr in trouble' and 'electricity vs the dead' which are bound to appease those who bought into previous records Grace And The Bigger Picture and Waited Up 'Til It Was Light.

Given that they so obviously had a blast making it, though, it seems somewhat contradictory that much of this album isn't actually that much fun to listen to at all. The infectious hooks which have characterised much of the band's work up until this point are sadly too few and far between, and as such most of the more upbeat songs here just sound like a band with plenty of energy but little in the way of ideas. It's not irritating so to speak, rather that everything which falls victim to this pitfall seems devoid of that key ingredient which would develop into a fully-formed - and enjoyable song. There are even some great moments within individual songs, but too often these become lost and are subsequently forgotten come its end, which is a shame as it shows that with a little more focus they would most certainly be on to something.

Due to those issues, this albums highlights tend more often than not to be its slower moments. This is at odds with their career trajectory thus far, but the ballads here, 'johnny foreigner vs you' in particular, are excellent, and show that the band does indeed possess a songwriting conscience rather than merely jumbling various elements together into one rather untidy whole. Maybe this is the future which awaits when their youthful abandon eventually burns out, but even if this isn't the case these songs should provide a benchmark for the bands next few releases. You don't find many great bands who lack focus, and if they add a little to their canon, Johnny Foreigner - with the qualities they have - may well prove themselves worthy of joining the genre's elite.



1. if im the most famous boy you’ve fucked then honey yr in trouble
2. with who, who and what i’ve got
3. 200x
4. hulk hoegaarden, gin kinsella, david duvodkany, etc 1
5. johnny foreigner vs you
6. concret1
7. electricity vs the dead
8. jess, you got yr song so leave
9. supermorning
10. what drummers get
11. new street, you can take it
12. concret2
13. (don’t) show us your fangs
14. you vs everything
15. doesn’t believe in angels
16. the swell/like neverwhere
17. alternate timelines piling up

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