First things first: yes, they’re actually called Joanna Gruesome. And yes, that name is pretty bad. Admittedly, it made me wary to investigate Weird Sister, the debut album from this Welsh fuzz-pop band. All it took was one listen to get me hooked, and I’ve been playing Weird Sister repeatedly ever since. Jangle pop and fuzzed-out punk are both genres that have been done to death by hordes of anonymous bands who copy the basics of the genre without finding anything new to say, but Joanna Gruesome do the unthinkable by meshing the two genres together into something wonderful and addictive.
At some points, Joanna Gruesome’s influences make themselves apparent throughout Weird Sister; first single “Sugarcrush” is a decent example of this, borrowing equal from Black Tambourine and The Lemonheads. Despite this, the band often rise above mere pastiche or tribute, relying on their melodic gifts to keep things interesting. It helps that the band have arrived as mature songwriters, not falling into the traps of keeping things too airy or monotonous the way so many of their contemporaries have done. They know when things need to get loud (as on the ass-kicking opener “Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers” or on “Madison”) and when things need to get sweet and melodic (“Lemonade Grrrl” and “Do You Really Wanna Know Why Yr Still In Love With Me?”). Very few bands have it all figured out right from the start, but Joanna Gruesome have done just that.
– Kevin Korber