Birmingham’s Johnny Foreigner have always sounded somewhat unique. They mix indie riffs, cute electronics and catchy hooks, which doesn’t sound overly original, but it’s the obvious punk influence that makes them stand out. From the opening moments of the first track, ‘Shipping’, we’re attacked by the harsh distortion and relentless drums. Lead vocalist/guitarist Alexei Berrow just adds to this with his voice, which is somewhere in between singing, talking and screaming.
The next few songs to follow on new album, ‘You Can Do Better’, don’t let up much either. It’s obvious that Johnny Foreigner have a lot of fun with the music they create and don’t take themselves too seriously. Oddly, it’s when you reach the album’s fourth track (and one of the most comically titled), ‘Riff Glitchard’, that the band begin to slow things down. It comes as a nice break inbetween the madness. Starting with a lush clean guitar and steady paced beat, it becomes bassist/vocalist Kelly Southern‘s time to shine. Her voice compliments the band’s sound overall as she chimes in on most tracks, but on a slower track like this she shows her more soothing side.
The album continues on in similar form with more dual vocals between Alexei and Kelly and angst ridden indie/punk vibes. On tracks like ‘Stop Talking About Ghosts’, it’s almost as if the two are battling each other vocally to be heard during the track. There’s another break in the chaos, and this time Alexei takes lead vocal. ‘To The Death’ is another well placed quieter moment for the most part.
Johnny Foreigner seem to be just having fun with music. ‘You Can Do Better’ is the band’s fifth full-length, and by now it sounds like they know what they’re doing and what they want to sound like. It’s hard not to enjoy if you’re partial to this kind of music, and if you’re already a fan then you shouldn’t feel let down. ‘You Can Do Better’ sounds like the logical progression from the band’s previous work, and is certainly a fine addition to the band’s back catalogue.
Written by Shane Sanderson