The sophomore effort from London’s Desperate Journalist is that rarest of things: an album whose theme flows consistently throughout. Whether it is Grow Up‘s cover and its stark depiction of lead singer Jo Bevan as a teenager, boldly facing down her observer; its musical content, combining the classic post-punk conflict of bass-drum heaviness topped by glissando guitar, or -finally, but crucially – the album’s confessionally-honest lyrical themes of awkwardness and blazons of love and pain: this is an album dedicated to the adolescent experience of alienation, thwarted desire and angst.
The album’s title works in two ways, of course – both as instruction to its listener, but also as a description of its creators’ state of being. Songs on the album seem to have a margin of additional power and oomph by comparison to their eponymous debut, and most prominently bear comparison to Savages, were they to be fronted by Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris.
Of particular note are the album’s first few tracks, especially whirling opener ‘Hollow’ and quiet-loud-quiet plea ‘Be Kind’. If there’s one criticism to make – that the energy promised from the album’s beginning dissipates as it continues – then that, too, almost feels appropriate as, after all, no-one spends their teenage years entirely in either a rave or a rage.
And, if lacking in urgency, the later, slower tracks more than make up for it with their contemplative lyricism. Penultimate track ‘Oh Nina’, for example, with its refrain of “grow up and get on with it”, and the piano-led ‘Radiating”s (“I just couldn’t ask”) nod to The Smiths’ ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.
Evocative of so many indie bands, from the genre’s dawn to its more recent past, Desperate Journalist have constructed an album that is, unsurprisingly, drawing rave reviews – with most critics declaring that the band have now truly ‘arrived’. More than just arriving by aping their forerunners though, the album is a near perfect homage to the teenage experience and, by the end of it, one is required to conclude that the band have indeed Grown Up.
Grow Up is out now on Fierce Panda Records.