Joanna Gruesome, Split EP, Reeks of Effort
It’s been a year since the release of Joanna Gruesome’s debut full length, Weird Sister, and the impression it left remains unfading. While critically praised from both sides of the Atlantic, it’s perhaps one of the most unsung records of recent times; reflecting the age of its creators, its glorious and abrasive petulance only heightens with age. It’s an album that has proved indelible, uncovering hidden depths with every listen, rather than revealing itself to be hollow at the core, like many albums that prevail upon first impressions.
This 12” split with Trust Fund is, on first inspection, fast paced and melodically-driven. Opener ‘Jerome (Liar)’ recalls the glory days of C86 in its melodic discordance and a chorus that is indie pop perfection. Elsewhere, ‘Coffee Implosion’ and ‘Satan’ are snippets of the band at their most hushed and introspective; the latter being a comparatively stripped down and languid reworking of one of the more contemplative moments on Weird Sister.
For all their likeness to the “shambling” sounds of yesteryear, it’s frustrating to read misguided critics dismissing Joanna Gruesome as 90s revivalists, just as much as it is to see overt pigeonholing of singer Alanna: comparisons with female front-women of yore are plentiful – from Belinda Butcher to The Breeders – while they are no doubt merely complimentary, it would be fairer to say that Alanna has her own respective qualities. Here, she sounds more confident vocally, veering from soft refrains to sporadic clamour, and the band stick to their accomplished formula of melding genres and sub genres to triumphant effect. Ultimately, if this is just a snapshot of what else Gruesome has to offer, then a full-length follow-up could not come sooner enough.