Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

written by: September 6, 2013
Album-art-for-Weird-Sister-by-Joanna-Gruesome Release Date: September 10, 2013


Joanna Gruesome, a five-piece group out of Cardiff, trudges through the lo-fi chasm to bring about Weird Sister, an effort of ’90s style noise-pop fitting right along in the side streams of indie and underground. The album, while drowning in guitar fuzz, has a surprising tendency for pop hooks and tasty melodies.

There is little variance in the album, though, whose main drive can become a bit lackluster after half an album. Still, the Welsh group confidently strums about, and in the process has given us some amiable pieces of textbook noise-pop.

Both “Lemonade Grrrl” and “Madison,” two standout tracks from the middle of the album, have Joanna Gruesome doing what it does best. There are driving, fuzzy guitars inlaid with angry drum patters. There are suburban, angsty lyrics wrapped in pretty melodies and vocals.

Dichotomous male and female vocals play an underappreciated part in Weird Sister. They bring some of the most enjoyable moments of the album, recalling contemporaries like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (see: “Sugarcrush”). At many points in the record, there is a sense of unabridged enjoyment that exudes; apperently, the album is more fun for the band to play than for someone to listen to. This isn’t a bad thing, as it allows for the listener to be absorbed in the frankness Joanna Gruesome’s members provide.

Joanna Gruesome’s attempts to be snotty come off as less than genuine, though, and seem forced. This is most evident in “Secret Surprise,” whose juxtaposed verse-choruses feel abrasive. This is unlike standout “Wussy Void,” which is Pixian in its loud-and-soft, giving the most satisfying moment on Weird Sister. In addition, there are only a few moments of sonic variability in the album.

Almost sweet and tender moments like “Candy” and “Satan” show that the band has a variable palette of sound, but unfortunately, one that it doesn’t take full advantage of.

When you hear that Joanna Gruesome all met while attending anger management classes, and that the actual band itself is the result of a group project on expressing emotion through music, you really wouldn’t be surprised. Not to say that the new album Weird Sister is a clinic in fury, but there is certainly a base catharsis that the group is putting on display.

Weird Sister is an album dipped in reverb and pop and snot, yet has moments of tranquility and delicacy. Still, the album’s schizophrenic nature brings about a conflict of identity; are we gazing at our shoes or are we rioting in the pit?

There are certainly allusions to almost every group to reverb and crunch their way into the spotlight, from My Bloody Valentine to Dum Dum Girls, but is the lack of novelty enough to fuzz out Joanna Gruesome from heavy rotation? Whether this keeps you up at night or not, the fact that Joanna Gruesome has put its love of buzz in its back pocket and run with it is something worth looking into.

Joanna Gruesome  – Weird Sister tracklist:

  1. “Anti Parent Cowboy Killers”
  2. “Sugarcrush”
  3. “Wussy Void”
  4. “Madison”
  5. “Lemonade Grrrl”
  6. “Secret Surprise”
  7. “Do You Really Wanna Know Why Yr Still In Love With”
  8. “Candy”
  9. “Graveyard”
  10. “Satan”