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The Just Joans

Buckfast Bottles In The Rain (Wee Pop)

By • Apr 15th, 2012 • Category: Album review

Only an idiot wouldn’t recognise Desperado as simply a big budget remake of El Mariachi. And, for all it’s smouldering Banderos/Hayek-shaped qualities, only a buffoon wouldn’t lament the bludgeoning of half the naïve charm that made the latter such a hit (and facilitated the former). Thankfully (well, for us), and inexplicably, no-one is throwing money in the direction of The Just Joans. As a result, what they bring to this informal remake of 2005’s Last Tango In Motherwell is how the band have grown in confidence over the time.

Buckfast Bottles In The Rain is roughly a concept album of the years between the last days of school and the crushing reality of being a ‘grown up’ in the west of Scotland. This is important. But, we’re talking terroir here rather than parochialism. As much as Martha Reeves is Detroit, Sach Distel is Paris and the Ramones are New York City; were you to cut The Just Joans (the name itself is genius) open you’d and the legend Lanarkshire: Mad wi’ it like the letters in a stick of rock. Look a the split singles with hip you yank bands or being namechecked by Australians on a near hourly basis on 6Music, it seems the rest of the world can embrace this. Of course, as a man once said, only in his hometown is the prophet without honour.

Opener Coia’s Empty not only brings the concept of the Empty (and the world’s greatest maternal insult) to a wider audience, but sets out the stall for what will follow. We get brilliantly squiffy indie guitars soundtracking the universal story of a bunch of lads interested in the girls at school but most definitely unsure how to handle it. Balancing brilliantly the giddy fear and the wish to have just broken out the X-box. (Y’know, so pervasive is the US high school story that schools in Scotland now have Proms. It’s difficult enough without having it formalised.) The alienation/fascination axis is continued through Please Don’t Talk To Me (awkward, clumsy and shy every time you say hi to me) and Lookin’ Like Rain (chucked by my lassie down the Strathy). It is a universal truth…

East Kilbride (All Summer Long) takes us through the restless period before the even more awkward and horrible period of socialisation stepping into the world of further education. The terror of leaving home (Wham! Bars Are Great) through the Friday Afternoons (Down The Union) – rendered here as inexplicable, but highly effective cod-ragga-rock – to the drunken fumblings of casual dalliances (Five Beer Bottles).

New song Somedays, an anthem in miniature as to why everything’s just shite. Which builds to the climax of What Do We Do Now? A perfect evocation of the inevitable loss of your past and coming to terms with it. A song that boasts among its lyrics (not only the title of this album and I’ll always think of you, whenever I smell cider) the couplet Do you still see much of Coia? No, he’s moved in with his girlfriend. The stuff sociology theses are made of.

The joy of The Just Joans is how they speak to you in a way that can make you laugh, make you cry, and best of all often both at once. Back then …Motherwell was declared the best Scottish album of the year. If we hear a better album than this all year, from anywhere, we’ll be surprised (and very pleased). Hopefully it’ll be the next one from this lot.

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