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December 2018 / January 2019
Review

Desperate Journalist - Grow Up

Desperate Journalist know their way around in the glacial post-punk gloom.
Desperate Journalist - Grow Up
Published: 2:26 pm, March 24, 2017
Desperate Journalist know their way around in the glacial post-punk gloom.

Label: Haus Of Pins
Released: 24th March 2017
Rating: ★★★★

With their name coming from The Cure’s marvellously petulant early obscurity ‘Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation’, it’s obvious that Desperate Journalist know their way around in the glacial post-punk gloom. And if their 2014 debut had a lot of promise - jagged and jangling in equal measure, if nodding a little heavily in the direction of great coated heroes and quiffed forbears - ‘Grow Up’ sees the London quartet do just that.

They thunder through the first three or four songs like they've got a point to prove. Starting subdued, with Simon Drowner’s gravelly bass and Rob Hardy’s crystalline lead, ‘Hollow’ quickly gains tension and urgency, Jo Bevan’s vocal leaping from the tense verse to the brash, crashing highs of the chorus. At full strength, hers is a voice with the same touches of Siouxsie as Jehnny Beth - although far less blatant - but there are glimmers of sweetness and light here which Savages lack.

That brightness runs through the excellent ‘Resolution’, Caz Hellbent’s drums rattling as Bevan loops Björkish frills around the giddily stratospheric chorus. ‘Be Kind’ is softer, an encounter with a former flame at a crappy gig (“This place is such a non-event/they are so loud, and I am so ineloquent”) ending in self-doubt and recrimination, but builds magnificently from the crisp, chiming verse (with a hint of ‘All Apologies’) to the beaten, hopeful plea of the chorus (“I want to be kind/and I want to be perfect to you”).

Any self-doubt is gone by the sardonic ‘Why Are You So Boring?’, sick of condescension (“You touch me on the arm, lecture me on ‘Animal Farm’/Well, if only I could read”) and ‘Your Genius’, whose barbs might well be headed in the same direction (“There he goes again, in all his glory … You could have been brilliant/but honey, you’re a coward”).

Only the final ‘Radiating’, coming after ‘Oh Nina’’s spirited dream pop, doesn’t quite land, thanks mostly to a mildly clunky Smiths quote, but the raw, piano and vocal arrangement makes such a feature of Bevan’s voice that it’s hard to dislike. As second albums go, ‘Grow Up’ is potent, convincing stuff. Rob Mesure

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