Somewhere across the pond, in a town called Cardiff, is a band by the name of Joanna Gruesome. Composed of five musicians, the group pours their hearts out and produces a very noisy, somewhat punkish, even a bit indie kind of music. At first that may seem a bit much, but it works very well. That said, their latest album, Peanut Butter is no exception.
Peanut Butter starts off a bit corpulent –stuffed full of noise. The opening track of Joanna Gruesome’s new album, “Last Year,” is packed with enough distortion to make a metal band cower in a corner. Intense is an understatement. As the song creeps on, more colors of the band begin to show. The singing softens, the guitars become a little more twangy and gain a more defined melody. Noise meets twee meets pop and you’re sold. Joanna Gruesome’s first impression is powerful.
The album begins to transition into the next track in a seamless way, “Jamie” drifts by like a cloud in the sky. It’s so much more gentle than what you would expect off the album’s initial burst of energy. It’s really special though. At this point you’ll begin to fall for the vocalists. Each moment sells you a little more.
Maybe it’s beginning to show that I really, really like this album. Whether or not the rest of the world will say is difficult. It’s sort of a dangerous endeavor to recommend it to fans of noise, or punk, or pop, or twee, or any genre –because Joanna Gruesome really doesn’t just fit one perfectly. The band’s style is a neat twist of several influences that do not seem like they belong together, and yet it’s all so cohesive and it makes sense. It’s hard for me to say anything really bad about Peanut Butter. There will be naysayers, and not everyone will fall in love with the album. Regardless, this guy is pretty steadfast in how great Peanut Butter really is.
A final few words of praise. Commonly, these noisy, indie groups have a habit of putting out a great album without any real Earth shattering tune to haunt you well after that first listen –that standout blockbuster track. Joanna Gruesome must have sold their soul to the devil or something. Peanut Butter as a whole is fantastic, sure, but holy hell the band proves they can jam across a couple of tracks. Towards the end of the album, they really pick up the pace and things get super good. “I Don’t Wanna Relax” starts as a wall of noise and breaks into a nice poppy tune. The song stands out if only because of how catchy the melodies are. The drum beat is hypnotizing and the guitar line is delightful. A guitar solo snuck in there is a sweet addition as well. The song is practically impossible not to like and I found myself going back to listen to it again and again. Similarly, “Separate Bedrooms,” also stood out. To be blunt, at first glance the song didn’t really seem too dazzling. The way it manages an almost solemn sound while maintain a trademark quick pace is great. Once again Joanna Gruesome puts their guitars to good use and a closing vocal burst just does things for you that can’t be explained easily.
Sort of noisy, very poppy, Joanna Gruesome’s Peanut Butter is really a special treat all in its own. The album is reminiscent of older twee pop by all means which is nice. Simultaneously, the occasional droning note, constant distortion, and fast pace of the album gives Peanut Butter a unique sound. If you’re a longtime fan of this whole indie scene, there’s no if, and, or buts about it –this is not an album you want to miss. Joanna Gruesome is loud and brilliant.