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Just Joans

Virgin Lips (Wee Pop)

By • Jan 24th, 2008 • Category: Single review

Finally, the second ‘proper’ release from Lanarkshire’s Finest® The Just Joans. Out on Wee Pop this ep comes as a dinky 3″ CD beautifully packaged in a classic indie-DIY stylee in its own little pay poke envelope.

We’re straight out of the traps with the title track: Part barking polka stomp; part schoolyard chant about one’s, erm, lack of lip-action. It’s dotty and completely infectious.

This is followed with a rerecorded version of Lookin’ Like Rain from the Last Tango In Motherwell album. While it’s great to hear this stuff in some sort of proper fidelity, it doesn’t quite work. Giving the main theme to a solo piano has thrown up the temptation to just slow everything down to make it sound more ‘meaningful’. It doesn’t. It just makes it slower. They’ve succeeded in fairly wringing most of the emotion and dynamic out of the song. It’s not bad, just completely pointless. It’s a mistake most people make with covers, but not often their own songs. Which brings us to their version of The Cure‘s Pictures Of You. Yes, yes, all very nice. But, does it stand on its own or does it only work with knowledge of the original? Of course, it’s the latter. These days it always is. Which means three minutes of the band winking at us to check we can see how clever they are. A band this good (and smart) don’t need such things.

And, while we’re on the subject of the superfluous chaff, spoken interlude Dear Joan seems to just be there to explain the title track, something the title track does well enough itself. And, if you’re going to try and make something touchingly whimsical out of samples from a movie, don’t choose something that already has touching whimsy in spades and try and pass it off as your own. It’s just more pointlessness (Caracus).

Ahem. So, other than the poorly-executed, ill-advised and completely unnecessary, what’s it like? Oh brilliant, what do you expect? Never There is my new exemplar to explain what the band are all about. Another tale of dejection and heartbreak that were it not so funny you’d cry. But, you might any way. Just Another Lunchtime Affair is where they get to exercise (yes, that spelling) their rockier VU demons. Bellshill Station is, frankly, lovely. And, once again, puts yet another unlikely location on the rock ‘n’ roll map. (I have this image of some spotty indie kid living by Rockaway beach listening to this and dreaming of one day visiting Motherwell. Maybe that’s just the romantic in me.) The brilliantly titled These Boot Are Made For Stalking is the song they manage to out-Merritt Stephen Merritt. Nice one. (“I’m there, just one step behind you/That’s me, going through your bins”)

So, it’s small, and mostly perfectly formed. And, despite any reservations expressed, this record was a joy to receive in the dying embers of 2007 a year that ultimately was just a bit too meh. It may be flabby, but it’s still brilliant.

Onto its second pressing now. Don’t miss out this time.

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