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Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up 'Til It Was Light

  by Mark Rowland

published: 27 / 7 / 2008

Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up 'Til It Was Light
Label: Best Before Records
Format: CD


Distinctive and energetic indie rock on debut album from rising Birmingham-based group, Johnny Foreigner

Birmingham’s Johnny Foreigner peddle a mix of US and UK indie rock like the Wedding Present, Idlewild, but despite seemingly crossing well-trodden territory, they manage to make it their own. 'We Waited...' is an adrenalin shot through the ears, a wonderfully clattered rush from start to finish, with only the briefest of respites throughout. It's certainly noisy, but their melodies cut through it just enough to make them accessible and interesting. A varied assortment of influences can be heard in their break-neck, ramshackle sound, from Sonic Youth to Bearsuit via the Pixies. Vocally, they are fairly distinctive - guitarist Alexei Berrow's voice sits somewhere between Bloc Party's Kele Okereke, Idlewild's Roddy Woomble and Frank Black. On most songs, he shares vocal duties with bassist Kelly Southern, while the brilliantly named Junior Elvis Washington Laidley adds his share of backing vocals on a few tracks, as well as playing both drums and keyboards (sometimes at the same time). This mix of voices are put to good use on most tracks, with some nice harmonies and a few good yelps here and there. The best use of vocal interplay might be on the chorus of 'Cranes and Cranes and Cranes and Cranes', where Berrow and Southern sing every other syllable. The vocal hopping gives the songs here a greater sense of urgency, which, considering the songs are fairly manic anyway, is saying something. Single ‘Eyes Wide Terrified’ sounds a bit like Pavement’s ‘Shady Lane’ before launching into the kind of jerky, anthemic song that Idlewild used to specialise in, though a bit more ragged around the edges. The disjointed rhythms of 'The End and Everything After' brings to mind the best of late 90's emo-influenced indie (before the term 'emo' meant diluted goth music), albeit with a post-Bloc Party Britishness. 'Henning's Favourite' features the sort of echo-y guitar work favoured by bands such as Foals before launching into a clattering quiet-loud anthem. 'Salt, Pepper and Spinderella' slows the pace a little and is propelled by pulsing electronics. 'DJs Get Doubts' slows it further - a sweet, simple, acoustic number with some very nice harmonies. 'Sometimes, in the Bullring' builds to a frenetic crescendo, with so many ideas appearing and disappearing it's hard to keep up.

Track Listing:-
1 Lea Room
2 Our Bipolar Friends
3 Eyes Wide Terrified
4 Cranes and Cranes and Cranes and Cranes
5 The End and Everything After
6 Henning's Favourite
7 Salt, Peppa and Spinderella
8 Yes! You Talk Too Fast
9 Dj's Get Doubts
10 Sometimes, In the Bullring
11 Yr All Just Jealous
12 Absolute Balance
13 The Hidden Song at the End of the Record

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