May 26, 2024

The Just Joans – The Private Memoirs and Confessions of the Just Joans

Fika Recordings                        10 January 2020

The opener, ‘Hey Ho Let’s Not Go’, says it all, delivered in a Malcolm Middleton modern Scottish miserablist voice; “Let’s stay home – the TV’s good and the weather’s shite”. Then the melodic female commentary floats in: “When we were young, we’d take the bus to town / every weekend was like a battleground”.

The rest of the album is in the same dryly hilarious vein. ‘Who Does Susan Think She Is’ picks Susan apart for her art school airs and graces; veganism, bisexuality, etc. Half real commentary, half character playing, the album is delivered in a gently acerbic style with an emphasis on the vocals and simple arrangements. ‘Wee Guys’ is one picked out by the record company for attention; riding on a big tuneful chorus, it tells the story of one of those small fighty men, whose Jack Russell instincts results in a punctured lung. Someone looked at him, then somebody said something. “Boys will be boys”, eh?

The arrival of middle-age has brought disillusionment to this pair (but no lack of musical energy) , yet the wit and humour here is at the highest level of ironic commentary and makes this a lot of fun (if you are the sort of person who laughs at late-period Leonard Cohen songs). Brother and sister pair, David and Katie Pope, are the vocalists and lyricists but the rest of the band make this a cheeky pop release. It might be darkly funny but it’s also true and it is also a fun listen, even when they are outlining ‘Another Doomed Relationship’; one that they know is doomed from the outset but go through the motions. ‘My Undying Love For You Is Beginning To Die’ has a brilliantly cheesy synth accompaniment plus mandolin.

They go on to tell us in ‘The Older I Get The More I Don’t Know’ about “All the things I forgot to be” and rhyme beautifully; “each day of life is / a minor crisis”. Tales of resentment, everyday misery, grey rain, crappy relationships are grist to the mill here and they review their lives and tell their other half: ‘Dearest, you’re the one, the one I loathe the least’.

I’d hate to burst the bubble with an enthusiastic recommendation so I’ll simply mention that I’ve listened to this lots and it’s not bad, not bad at all.

About Author