A couple of years ago, I caught the Cardiff, Wales, UK-based, blogosphere darling quintet of Joanna Gruesome at an incredible CMJ Showcase at the now-defcunt Death By Audio and although that night quickly turned out to be rather horrible for me as I eventually wound up at Elmhurst General Hospital’s Emergency Room, with what I had thought was a case of strep throat – it wasn’t but it was awful either way. However, their absolutely unhinged CMJ set was a personal highlight of that year’s CMJ.
The Welsh quintet’s debut effort, Weird Sister won critical praise for material that possessed pop melodies blurred with a buzzing, dissonant jangle and layers of feedback, which gave it a unhinged, wild feel. The band’s long-awaited follow up, Peanut Butter, which will see a May 11 release in the UK through Fortuna Pop! Records and a June 2 release through Slumberland Records here in the States is the result of a change of songwriting and recording approach. As guitarist/songwriter Owen Williams explains in the press release for the album’s first single “Last Year:” “We tried to make it shorter, more economical and attempted to pack as many hooks and screams in as quickly possible in order to avoid short changing the consumer or wasting her/his time. Lyrically it’s more obtuse and surreal but also attempts to mock trad masculine rock themes whenever things do get more lucid. But then sometimes musically we embrace them by doing stupid guitar solos. Sometimes it’s narrative based but a fair amount of it is obtuse, word collage type stuff about radical politics, fancying people and peanut butter.”
In fact, as you hear “Last Year,” the track possesses a punchier-punk rock feel, which makes the song much more approachable and in turn, kind of anthemic – in a fist pumping, shout along with the hook and chorus fashion. Unlike their previous material, there’s a noticeable economical feel with the hooks being much tighter and recognizable while packing in as many as humanly possible without making the song seem completely based on hooks – or making their sound seem unrecognizable.