Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

Sometimes gloriously messy, sometimes just simply glorious.

Label: Fortuna Pop

Rating: 8

Somewhere a death-metal harp-based covers band are cursing. The perfect name forever gone, annexed by a Cardiff-based five-piece about to release their debut album, with nary a thought for the consequences.

‘Weird Sister’ is an album that seemingly reflects the age of its creators. The song names. The fact it is frequently snotty, frequently loud and frequently abrasive. The sense, as drum beats clatter and snap and ping off to try something else, of it having a attention span tending towards distracted.

You’d categorise all as fairly youthful characteristics. There is also the impression that ‘Weird Sister’ has all been pretty much Gaffer taped together. It has an undeniably lo-fi, done-it-ourselves aesthetic that is initially quite hard to see past. Not that you’re in any rush to: upon first listen it is riotous, breathless, exciting and with an expected lifespan equivalent to that of a mayfly in a blender.

Then something happens. Somewhere in amongst the fuzz and the scuzz and the sweat and the energy you find something more. Something better. It’s a bit like crawling through a Be Your Own Pet record and finding a long lost Mazzy Star EP.

There’s a definite arc to proceedings. The opening couple of tracks (‘Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers’; ‘Sugarcrush’) ramp up the spit, the fury and the reedy guitars bashing into each other. But by the end the mood has turned more reflective. On ‘Candy’ the previously skittish drums settle down into something more uniform and militaristic to sit alongside the increasingly sweet vocal coos, while final track Satan, with Alanna McArdle’s honeyed voice unfurling over squalls of reverb, could almost be from a different artist entirely.

Underneath the bits of ‘Weird Sister’ which sound like a troop of excitable, if slightly sullen, teenagers banging around, there exists a band who have designs on more melodic and majestic goals. When they stick the two things totally together, as they do on ‘Lemonade Grrrl’, the results are fantastic: a distant haze of My Bloody Valentine-esque feedback settling on on top of barely discernible lyrics delivered with punky vigour.

It all helps to make ‘Weird Sister’ a very moreish experience, far more than that initial fizzy taste suggests. Sometimes gloriously messy, sometimes just simply glorious, it is probably the most fun you’ll have all year rhyming with harpists.