British wave rock four-piece Desperate Journalist has been constantly releasing great records over the past five years. The band’s upcoming album In Search Of The Miraculous is already their third one and it’s quite possibly their best work so far. So, if you are still not a fan like us than it’s about time to change that. It’s not only the distinctive voice by singer Jo Bevan that makes their music so tempting, the powerful guitar sound is also quite important. And while Desperate Journalist often channel the sound of 1980s British indie one big influence for the melodic yet edgy riffs comes from a different side of the Atlantic. 1993’s Siamese Dream saw alternative rockers The Smashing Pumpkins on the peak of their game. That’s why NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION invited Rob Hardy to share his thoughts about the record with you.
This isn’t my favourite record of all time. That can change depending on mood, age, current relevance – myriad reasons – sometimes on a weekly basis. This is however, an album that influenced me in many, many ways – those guitars! Be it the extreme attention to detail – note the single acoustic guitar strum at the beginning of Cherub Rock – the endless layers of guitars – note, well all of it – the hubristic ambition – note Soma (and again all of it) – the classic juxtaposition of almost pure pop with sadness – note Today. Of course it would be difficult nowadays to say much for Billy Corgan that isn’t wholly damning seeing as he seems intent on adding himself to the pantheon of heroes turning into utter bell ends (Morrissey of course holds the crown on this), but when I first heard this record it utterly transformed my expectations of guitar music.
Much has been made of the loud – quiet dynamics that were so prevalent around this time in American music but what I think makes this different is the contrast between soporific intricacy and bludgeoning sledgehammers. To my mind this is quite different to say Nirvana (who I also adore I should say). There’s not much to say for the lyrics….. probably at best adequate, at worst cringe inducing…. but on this record, for me, it simply doesn’t matter, as they almost hold an accompanying role to those guitars, and of course those drums! Another jewel in Siamese Dream’s crown is what is in my opinion the greatest guitar solo every written – Soma. Whenever I listen to it (which is far more often than I care to admit) I still get goose pimples at the sheer scale, bravado, noise, melody, drama (add your own superlatives here). Even just hearing the intro (which is now playing in my living room) gives me shivers, partly on it’s own merit but partly in anticipation of that solo.
There are famously, layer upon layer of guitars on this record, something which I’ve almost certainly taken far too much to heart on our new record. While you could never really say it’s not over the top, it works, rarely does it feel laboured or muddy, regularly I rejoice in the intricate interwoven elements swirling through and around each other. Did I mention the guitars? I’m a guitarist so indulge me. I’ve often thought that one of the more overlooked elements of their sound (well on the first three albums, I pretty much give up after that) are their clean guitars. The outro of Hummer is sublime, as is the intro of Mayonaise.
This is partly what I mean by the intricacy vs sledgehammer thing – a perfect marriage of playing andsound. Rarely for albums I listened to a lot when I was young, I still listen to this regularly and still manage to find surprises in it. This keeps it from ever seeming old to me. Of course there are silly moments – some of the more metal guitars on Geek USA amuse me – and some of the songs are just not that good and should have been left off – Sweet Sweet, why???? However, these flaws almost make it more charming. So no, not my favourite album, but for better or worse, it’s probably one the most influential albums for me, as it still makes itself heard on the music I write today, the way I want to hear things produced, and the realised ambition that I think is so important in music. Also, have you heard those guitars?
Desperate Journalist will release their third studio album In Search Of The Miraculous on February 22 via Fierce Panda Records. Find upcoming tourdates below and give that old Smashing Pumpkins classic a spin right here.