Fanboy alert! I need to start this review with a confession that Birmingham indie-emo-popsters Johnny Foreigner have been my favourite band since the release of third album Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything in 2011. Therefore it is hard to stay impartial, but let’s be honest, this is JoFo we’re talking about. How could this ever be a bad review?
There had been a lot of hype over the band’s upcoming fourth album You Can Do Better, with fans desperately hoping that it can in some way live up to the perfection of the last one; an expansive 17-track cocktail of beautifully heartbreaking slowies, breakneck indie rock-outs, and everything in between. In many ways the lead single throws off the shackles of that record, from the title ‘Stop Talking About Ghosts’ (srsly, leave the past in the past dudes) to the shout along chorus of ‘the hardest part is letting go’. At just 2 minutes 30 it rips apart any lingering doubts fans may have and replaces them with a back to basics approach fuelled by all the punky powerchords, rapid drum rolls and duelling vocals first heard back on 2008’s debut ‘Waited Up ‘til It Was Light’. That’s not to say that the band hasn’t progressed since those early days though. The addition of second guitarist Lewes Herriot has upped the intensity, matched with a far superior production and more lead vocals by bassist Kelly Southern, who takes a notably more prominent role on these new tracks.
Continuing the theme of drowning ‘…Vs Everything’ in its own reputation and wiping the slate clean is the second track on this digital single, a rousingly noisy reimagining of piano ballad ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs You’. Tagging a defiant ‘…and Everyone You Love’ onto the end of the title and replacing melancholy with melodrama has resulted in something sounding like the Pixies doing a pissed-off waltz with amps cranked to 11. Completing the package is ‘Hit’, a quirky slacker anthem that prove JoFo still know how to make a killer b-side.
Stop Talking About Ghosts is available now as a pay-what-you-can download from Bandcamp with proceeds going to Cavell Nurses Trust, a charity organisation that offers emergency financial support to nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants. The new album You Can Do Better was released on Alcopop! Records on March 10th and the band are currently touring the UK to support it.
5 out of 5 high fives!