|Desp J Go Forth On Fourth Album!|
|22nd June 2021|
|Share: Artist Profile|
The Band: DESPERATE JOURNALIST
The Album Release: ‘MAXIMUM SORROW!'
The Formats: HEAVYWEIGHT COLOURED VINYL / STANDARD VINYL / CD / DIGITAL
The Release Date: JULY 2ND 2021
The Album Pre-Order Link: Pre-Order 'Maximum Sorrow' Album On All Formats Here
The Truth: It was a damned Good Friday, as Easter 2021 saw the return of noirish alt.goth roustabouts DESPERATE JOURNALIST (starring Jo Bevan (vocals), Caz Hellbent (drums), Simon Drowner (bass), Rob Hardy (guitar)) who piled back into the eerily empty marketplace with a brand new single called ‘Fault’ on April 2nd. ‘Fault’ was the first track to be hauled from Desperate Journalist’s thoroughly forthright fourth album, ‘Maximum Sorrow!’, recorded entirely in Crouch End in the midst of the Covid pandemic and due for release on a multitude of formats on July 2nd.
Quick as rainbows, 'Fault' was followed by 'Personality Girlfriend' in May and 'Everything You Wanted' in June. And if three tracks were ever capable of capturing the essence of a Desperate Journalist album, then these very much are they: 'Fault' thundered in the mountains, all bruised of lyric and brutalist of sound; the sardonically perky 'Personality Girlfriend' found the band at their most jovial and musically joyful, relatively speaking; and 'Everything You Wanted' is meta-Desp J, all haunted guitars, languidly muscular grooves and don't-look-at-me vocals building to a crackingly massive / massively cracking chorus. Clouds, silver linings, glowering power chords and more clouds, all wrapped up in six luxurious minutes and 19 seconds.
Much of the rest of 'Maximum Sorrow!' is both playful and, like the finest public house pint, half-full of rage; where swirling 'Heart Of Glass' synths are serenaded by shattered lyrics and 'Poison Pen' manages to put down put-down lines like:"You are oh so tall and sesquipedalian," without somehow sounding like a pompous arse. Because this is Desperate Journalist in hyper-dynamic form, super sleek, but never sickly slick; ambitious and expansive, but still bracingly, self-effacingly DIY to the core. If the 'Maximum Sorrow!' title is punchy then the music ripples with alt.rock sinew built up over seven years of relentless gigging and releases, like a fierce panther on the prowl.
. There are traditional desperate journeys to the heart of darkness - check the doomily concise disintegrations of 'Armageddon' for starters. And there are brilliantly-lit light touches: the swooning elegance of 'Utopia', the madrigal calm of 'Formaldehyde', a tragic finale on any other album but the opener here - verily, this is the band with the child in its eyes. Little wonder that singer Jo should say the album's creation "involved quite a lot of restraint on our part" in her traditional heart-of-sleevenotes laid bare below.
Kudos too to the spaciously epic choral thrustings of 'Everything You Wanted' and the spectacularly bittersweet yearnings of 'What You're Scared Of', strewn with scattered sugarcubes. In the olden golden days of gigs we would have called these songs Showstoppers, which is pretty impressive when you consider Desperate Journalist haven't stopped to play a show for roughly 18 months. In fact, what really strikes home is that the wholesome whole of ‘Maximum Sorrow!' sounds so exuberant and alive but as it was entirely created within the coronic confines of a lockdown it has never actually been played live – now that really does take some creative skillings.
We hear that post-punk made it into the springtime pages of The Sunday Times. Oh, DO keep up - Desperate Journalist have been raging against the corporate machine for what feels like aeons with their melodramatic blend of traumatised guitars and artbroken vocals. In fact, ‘Maximum Sorrow!’ will represent their fourth full album release in the six years since the devilish ‘Desperate Journalist’ debut appeared in 2015. Stroppy sophomore effort ‘Grow Up’ stormed out in 2017, while 2019 saw the search for the stellar 'In Search Of The Miraculous' spread far and wide.
Throw in a couple of lively five-track EPs (‘Good Luck’ and ‘You Get Used To It’) and their melody-shattering proficiency is apparent for all to see. Add a litany of ten-out-of-ten media reviews and utterly devotional followings from desperate fanboys and fangirls from Birmingham to Berlin and Desperate Journalist’s incredibly credible status is more bulletproof than ever before. Come the close Jo is lashing at the leash and howling,"And the trash all flutters / And you paint it with wings / And the shopfronts shuttered / And you're straining to sing / Was it worth it? Was it worth it?"
Well, what do you think??
Vaccines willing, Desperate Journalist will be delivering some maxed-up doses of Maximum Sorrow! at these shows here:
JULY 28TH 2021 LONDON BRICK LANE ROUGH TRADE EAST
SEPTEMBER 11TH 2021 MANCHESTER BREAD SHED (w/ LIINES)
DESPERATE JOURNALIST SINGER JO BEVAN'S THOUGHTS ON 'MAXIMUM SORROW!'
“Firstly, the album title: One of my favourite artists of the last twenty years is Kevin Bewersdorf, an early-ish proponent of what was initially called "net art". One of his main creations was a project called Maximum Sorrow, which incorporated stock images and corporate design elements juxtaposed with a kind of Taoist spirituality. The concept was based on the idea that once you reach a point of full saturation of melancholy, then you can't absorb any more, and you are thus free - or it could also be a slogan for a company offering incredibly efficient misery delivered directly into your brain from the Information Superhighway. Many of the works have been deleted from the internet now sadly but you can find some images and essays he wrote if you look hard enough. The thing which really appealed about this project was the fact that initially, due to the jargon inherent in the nascent global-business-data-optimist-ecommerce world which the imagery was lifted from, it was difficult to tell whether the intention was satirical or earnest - and now I am pretty sure that it's equal parts of both. Bewersdorf's work very much resonates with me as your classic sad self-aware millennial, concerned with meaning and authenticity whilst surrounded by culture with a thousand layers of irony all over it - and of course the aesthetic appealed, growing up as my generation did in an ever more commercialised, smoothed and shined, soulless-looking world.
"However lyrically this album certainly isn't a thirtysomething woman writing an indie rock opus about Society And The Online Experience In 2021 because a) that would be Awful and b) I wouldn't know what I was talking about. I started writing the lyrics for what became these songs with a vague idea to write about London and/or cities in general, but as the fleshing out of musical ideas progressed I relaxed my grip on a big overarching theme and responded more to them as individual songs, in the aim of variety over concept. There are songs on here about moving to London, psychodramas happening in London flats, and becoming disillusioned with the city, but if there is a theme lyrically speaking it's more generally reflective and ruminatory. It's "informed by lockdown" (urgh) only in the sense that it's very honestly about what goes on inside my own head. It *is* definitely informed by Bewersdorf's concept, though, in the sense that I am aware of an almost religious yearning for meaning, beauty, absolution, love, whatever, in my observing the everyday and within revisiting my memories - and the inevitable sadness that can come with the realisation that this is an almost impossible state to achieve, even if I knew exactly what it was I was looking for. NB: There are also some purely spiteful barbs in there against those who I consider to have wronged me, because I am incapable of helping myself.
"Sonically speaking we definitely didn't "just" want to do more of the same - after such a sweeping guitar-heavy record as In Search of the Miraculous we (and Rob in particular) were very keen to create something a bit more kaleidoscopic and varied in tone and texture to what we had done before. As a result, there are far fewer layers of guitars on the record - though it's still very much a guitar pop record - and also a few synth noises, arpeggios, different percussion details and rhythmic elements and so on. The way to add pieces like these carefully of course and it not sound like a total mess or gilding the daisy is to ensure that everything is recorded sensitively and layered in a considered way, and thankfully Rollo Smallcombe at Crouch End Studios who engineered the album was excellent at helping us get every element perfect for this process, particularly the drums and vocals which I think have been captured really well. This involved quite a lot of restraint on our part, and I think this more thoughtful approach has paid off. It is a beautiful sounding album. I am extremely proud of what we've made and hopefully it's the multicoloured thing we intended it to be - melancholic but beguiling.”