Johnny Foreigner, the indie heroes of Birmingham, somehow still manage to come across as a fresh, young band even though they’ve released a number of EPs and two full-length albums to date. Their brand of music consists of raucous, loud, indie-pop and this is a type of music that can only be used so much without getting tiresome. This became obvious on ‘Grace And The Bigger Picture’, as signs of the band becoming boring and repetitive started to rear their ugly faces on that album. Johnny Foreigner needed to change things, and with ‘You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star…’ they’ve managed to do as such.
This EP shows the band looking to branch out from their chosen style and because of this, it sometimes sounds a bit disjointed and messy. Not because the songs are bad, but because of the way the tracks shift into each other. The EP comes across as more of a brainstorming session than an organized recording, and it’s a good thing that Johnny Foreigner are such a talented band because if they weren’t, they simply wouldn’t make it work.
Opener ‘The Wind And The Weathervanes’ is an unusual opener. It’s laid back and comes across as quite hazy but changes halfway through with guitars plunging in, in the form of the Johnny Foreigner that we have come to know. The string sounds show us that the band are more grown up, and want to be known in a different way than before. But as the strings fade and ‘Who Needs Comment Boxes When You’ve Got Knives?’ starts, we hear a downright punk song that’s heavier than anything they’ve wrote before. Heavy chords and simple, fast drumming, backed by the vocals of Alexei and Kelly make the song. It’s a totally different song to the opener and it’s as if Johnny Foreigner are confused about which direction to go.
As on every other release, it’s obvious what the rest of the album is going to sound like from the first two songs. But on this EP, we are two songs in and no direction has been stuck to yet. The second part of ‘Elegy For Post-Teenage Living (Parts One And Two)’ has lively electro-pop, with Alexei talking over a bassline full of synth and programmed beats. ‘Robert Scargill Takes The Prize’ is the band at their most tender. The male/female duet over acoustic guitars and softy keys almost turns into a blend of folk-electronica, but the neatest touch is the false ending, a few seconds of outro, because other bands would have thought it too much, but Johnny Foreigner are not just another band.
‘Harriet, By Proxy’ is the only track that could be placed into either of their first two albums, but in the context of this EP it’s something totally different to the rest of the tracks. Closer ‘Yr Loved’ is a slow-burner, a late bloomer, and it’s a beautiful song musically and lyrically. The song glitters with hope and confirms the new Johnny Foreigner. Genre, style or direction doesn’t matter with this EP as the songs on here show so much potential and diversity that the future has just become even brighter for Johnny Foreigner. This EP is something to be enjoyed and savoured.
Written by Rhys Milsom
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.