Birmingham four piece Johnny Foreigner deliver a mash of indie and math rock with new album You Can Do Better, set for release on March 10. Undeniably unique, this album displays the distinctive identity of the band, spurning the norms of easy listening melodies and perfectly produced vocals.
You Can Do Better kicks off instantly with ‘Shipping’ which manages to maintain a foot-tapping beat despite a loose structure. The mix of rich and harsh vocals make for most of the album’s distinguishing sound. Following track ‘Le Sigh’ starts with a delicate tone before the pace quickens into an upbeat feel good tune, only just stopping short of sounding like strangled cats.
‘Riff Glitchard’ is an interesting number, starting off as a gentle instrumental that adds a moody depth to the album. Female vocals offer a lighter touch still, even when the guitar and drums kick in it still stands as a mild chill out track. Then the track takes a sudden turn in the last few seconds with an outburst of unmatched instruments and shouting vocals before an abrupt end. At this point the album becomes a selection of songs that are better appreciated in little segments rather than a full on listening in its entirety. The coarse, almost inaudible vocals littered throughout You Can Do Better follow an impressive pace however at times they do border on sounding like a car crash. Nonetheless, Johnny Foreigner save themselves with the dynamic nature of ‘Wifi Beach’, the calm vocals bringing your ears back to sanity, working nicely as a breakdown towards the end of the album. This is then carried on through the last few songs whereby the vocals hold more of a harmonious melody and abstain from shifting focus from the indisputable instrumental skill.
Final track ‘Devestator’ unfortunately really lives up to its name. Despite eventually reaching some kind of pace that the entrancing intro had suggested, this song somewhat devastatingly sounds like an unhealthy mash up of angry guitars and screeching amps. If you make it through this track, the album is then diligently saved by secret track ‘To The Deaf’, a lightly sung ditty providing the album with the cool down it needs.
Although the overload of abrasive vocals initially make it tough to endure as whole, You Can Do Better unquestionably reflects the raw talent and diversity of Johnny Foreigner. A greater balance of melodic vocals and display of musical talent rather than bouts of noise could have resulted in a much more ear-friendly experience.