Follow Us on Twitter

Johnny Foreigner - You Can Do Better (Review)

Johnny Foreigner, You Can Do Better

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

JOHNNY Foreigner have always thrived on their ability to deliver songs of short, sharp, jagged-edged intensity. A criticism is that they have often seemed a little one-note in the process despite some decent songs to their name.

The band’s fourth album, You Can Do Better, could almost serve as a mission statement of sorts, as if they’ve realised that the time is right to offer something new. Or at least a little bit more varied.

Hence, as frontman Alexei Berrow observes, the album draws on a wider set of influences while still retaining that head-spinningly fast approach.

He explains: “For the last year we’ve been messing around behind yr backs. It started with robbing drum intros from blink 182 and ended with horns stolen from Screaming Maldini and in the middle we had these 10 (11) little encounters with a louder noise than you’d possibly be happy about.

“And if that sentence wasn’t enough of a secret map, we created an entirely probably fictional city for the whole mess to live in. Bands are supposed to mellow as they get older, idk quite what’s gone wrong.”

Evidence of that diversity isn’t immediately apparent. Indeed, it’s not until fourth track Riff Glitchard that anything is different. Here, you have one of those aforementioned Blink-182 inspired drum intros, as well as melodic, low-key guitar riffs for over two minutes before any vocals kick in – and then they’re female. It’s a charmer of a track and it’s almost a shame when, all of a sudden at the end, the thrashing guitars kick in. But they’re clearly having their cake and eating it.

Another one that works well is Wifi Beach, which tip-toes into Ash-meets-Weezer territory with big riffs, cute melodies and a chorus that is nicely bittersweet, and To The Death, which takes on issues of negativity and suicidal tendencies with typically brash panache.

Devastator, meanwhile, is a 10-minute parting shot that is admirable for the way in which it exercises restraint, then lets go, before pausing for nearly four minutes and then building back up again before hitting you with a final 50-second blast of energy that’s utterly invigorating. It’s an epic way to go.

Elsewhere, it’s all about the fight pop tendencies they helped to originate, whether in the bang, crash, wallop intro of Shipping, the mosh-pit frenzy in waiting that is The Last Queens of Scotland or…. well, take your pick from Le Sigh, In Capitals, Stop Talking About Ghosts or Le Schwing.

Overall, then, You Can Do Better shows welcome signs of progression, as well as some of those loveably riotous days of old. It’s arguably their best effort to date… although one suspects that they can still do better. The evidence lies in the album’s best songs.

Download picks: Riff Glitchard, Devastator, Wifi Beach, To The Death

Track listing:

  1. Shipping
  2. Le Sigh
  3. In Capitals
  4. Riff Glitchard
  5. The Last Queens of Scotland
  6. Stop Talking About Ghosts
  7. Wifi Beach
  8. To the Death
  9. Le Schwing
  10. Devastator