Though it has only been two years since their last album Grace And The Bigger Picture, the wait has felt much longer and another release well overdue. The wait is now over as November 7th the Birmingham noise pop maestros Johnny Foreigner unleash their massive 17 track album Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything. The band’s first release on Alcopop! Records, the album is an expressive and emotive array of light and not exactly darker but carrying the real tones that touch our each and every day, and as singer/guitarist Alexei Berrow reveals the album “sounds like a huge expansive sprawling ambitious and personal version of us.”
Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything is this time self produced with the band basically having full control over everything and it shows, the album oozing elements that make up the band as musicians and people. Recorded with long time friend Dominique James (Sunset Cinema Club) who understood the band far beyond the music side, the DIY plateau the Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything was created upon has brought out even more charm and essences of the band than in their previous impressive and certainly welcoming releases. Again Berrow sums it up better commenting “We started writing it two years ago, and staggered recording and mixing over 5 months. The title came first. This is the first full length record we’ve made without a Grammy – nominated producer, without contracts and New York and professionals. The biggest challenge we’ve faced as a band, and the worst thing about leaving the world of corporate-funded labels, was knowing that sooner or later we’d come to this point; having to make a way better record for a way worse budget… and I’m beyond proud to say that I think that’s exactly what us and Dom have achieved. We’ve made the record that sounds like we do in our heads.”
The songs within the album come in varied guises and intent but all come equipped with incisive melodies and emotions that cause smiles alongside personal reminders and references all can recognise and feel somewhere within the release. Songs swoop upon and mingle with the senses with equal wonder whether brought with indie punk urgency, charismatic pop allure, or touching sentiment, the overall effect the same of pleasure and a sense ‘they know’ because they have been there and the songs playing are their lives too.
A rundown of all seventeen gems would take longer than the albums length but some tracks play deeper and stay longer than others. The opening pop artistry of ‘If I’m The Most Famous Boy You’ve Fucked Then Honey Yr In Trouble’ and the hypnotic vibrancy fuelling ‘Hulk Hoegaarden, Gin Kinsella, David Duvodkany, Etc.’ alongside the melodic trickery of ‘Electricity Vs The Dead’ and slow burn into anthem flow of ‘New Street, You Can Take It’ simply inspire and excite the senses with manic enthusiasm. The combined vocals of Berrow and bassist Kelly Southern a perfect union whether in frantic energy or powerful sentiment; melodic and harmonious and as engaging as their eagerly striking sounds from exploratory teasing guitars and delicious thrilling basslines over the classy and inventive rhythms from Junior Elvis Washington Laidley.
The songs within Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything ripple with various essences that recall a maelstrom of delights from the wells of Pixies, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Daisy Chainsaw, and very, very early The Cure. Melodic, discordant and thoroughly inventive the album is a complete joy to the ear and heart. The more you listen the more you get from it and the deeper Johnny Foreigner becomes a part of your world.