published: 23 /
Fourth LP from dynamic 80s postpunk-inspired Londoners Desperate Journalist proves to be a belter
"You can’t choose your feelings, You choose what you do." Nicely put Jo Bevan, singer of overcoat popstars in waiting Desperate Journalist as their new album ‘Maximum Sorrow!’ rolls into the starting gate on the restrained and mournful ‘Formaldehyde’. It’s an angelic opening and reminds that the DJs can kill you just as easily with the low-key numbers – fans of cross/referencing please see ‘Perfect Health’ from 2015’s 'Good Luck' EP. Then with a yelp ‘Fault’ barges in like a Savile Row crombie over the shoulders of some hard-boiled East End gangster from y’know back when gangsters used to care a bit more about their appearance. An insistent bass line from Simon Drowner nails both your feet to the floor as scattershot drums and a spiny guitar riff announce that, yes, Desperate Journalist 2021 have discovered the secret buttons just out of view underneath the mixing desk.
‘Personality Girlfriend’ follows coated (apologies, that was a purely co-incidental overcoat reference) in the kind of teflon riff you know will bear many repeat listens. And it’s going to need it. Jo politely asks "Please will you love me?" but really there’s no need. The song is a perfect contrast of her resigned appeals and the kind of memorable guitar work from Rob Hardy that has my friend Eddie burbling something about John McGeogh. Rob’s guitar playing has stood out from day one and this album is laced with his sonic guitar architecture. Hold on, sorry Alan Partridge is on the line.. "What’s that Alan? Guitarchitecture? Yes, yes, I suppose we could use that.. thank you, bye!"
Then we coast for a bit through ‘Armageddon’ with its clever lyrics, ‘Fine in the Family’ with its Mission-isms and Caz Helbert’s dreamy delayed drums on ‘Utopia’, but it’s the epic ‘Everything You Wanted’ that really steals the show. Six minutes of maximum borrow as Jo, Rob, Simon and Caz, barely visible beneath their blue disposable gowns and masks, graft all the best bits from U2’s ‘October’ onto all the best bits from Simple Minds' ‘New Gold Dream’. It’s a tricky operation but Rob’s delayed guitar holds steady while he teases us with glacial riffs (that each time he refuses to repeat, damn him!) and Jo streams the song like a kite through moody post-storm cloudscapes. It’s probably the shortest six minute song you’ll hear all year.
Engineering the comedown from such lofty heights is ‘Poison Pen’ with it’s dramatic pauses making me think of early, ‘Cristina’- era DJs before ‘The Victim’and ‘What You’re Scared Of ‘ usher in a reflective interlude that brings poise to the album and extends to the easy to answer last track ‘Was It Worth It’.
‘Maximum Sorrow! is an overcoat pop masterpiece and with the likes of Tim Burgess’s Twitter thing calling it’s likely this album will win them a whole load of new fans and deservedly so – ask anyone who’s ever been in a studio and they’ll tell you those secret buttons under the mixing desk are notoriously hard to locate.
Fine in the Family
Everything You Wanted
What You're Scared Of
Was It Worth It
Play in YouTube:-
Have a Listen:-