In a garden, a teenage Jo Bevan faces the camera. The dappled sunlight and party dress are immediately at odds with her band-to-be's brooding aesthetic. And yet, the second Desperate Journalist album is packaged not for laughs but with sombre recognition that, even as a child, you can see the trials of life rolling your way. Bevan is almost expressionless, staring into the future. Grow Up. You should always judge an album by its cover.
This time around, the London-based four-piece stretch and strive, and mould legacy materials with adroit artistry. Underpinned by the stark poetry of Bevan’s lyrics and guitarist Rob Hardy’s melodic enterprise, the likes of All Over ('I wandered through battlements of birthday cards') and I Try Not To ('Happily I've lost my nerve / To give myself the kicking I probably deserve') twitch and spark. Elsewhere, potent anthems (Lacking In Your Love) and tender balladry (Radiating) confirm an expanding palette and a deepening song craft.
Throughout, Grow Up is a bracing and vital antidote to genre norms, and shares a worldview that nourishes both heart and head. A huge undertaking, a staggering achievement. You need this.
Listen to: All Over, Why Are you So Boring?