Joanna Gruesome: Peanut Butter (Slumberland) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, October 19th, 2020  

Joanna Gruesome

Peanut Butter

Slumberland

Jun 18, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala Bookmark and Share


The marriage of noise and pop is as old as garage rock itself, but few recent bands have wed sonic assaults and bracingly gorgeous melodicism as convincingly as Joanna Gruesome.

Chiefly relying on stop-start alternations of the superbly sweet and the utterly grotesque, this Welsh quintet offers twee with teeth, a sound that suggests a sinister rethink of the Creation, Sarah, and K labels' heydays. As even adoring critics have noted, this ugly-pretty (and in some ways, dumb-smart) motif was essentially the only trick present on the band's 2013 debut, Weird Sister. On their second LP, Joanna Gruesome greets this skepticism with a shrug, opting to sharpen the formula rather than change it. This proves to be a surprisingly potent decision. While there's no replicating the shock of their opening salvo, Peanut Butter manages to double down on Weird Sister's considerable volume of bitter pills and sugar-encrusted euphoria.

The primary weapons are guitar leads that can gleam like thrift store versions of George Harrison's Revolver-era work, or summon the nihilistic force of classic hardcore punk. But of equal import is vocalist Alanna McArdle's mastery of both deadpan deliveries and throat-punishing fury, both of which prove to be effective means of offering the occasional self-lacerating truth. Like the original masters of Neanderthal-savant pop, The Ramones, Joanna Gruesome has proven to be entirely capable of devising rewarding full-length albums out of a single song, rewritten ad infinitum. Let's just hope they can keep the lid on the lightning they've bottled. (www.joannagruesome.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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