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Waited Up ’Til It Was Light

Johnny Foreigner

8 / 10 When Walter Donovan drank from the gilded goblet at the end of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, his craving for eternal life led to a grisly, dusty death. The dumb Nazi-lover was looking in the wrong place – the debut album from this sparky Brummie trio is as strong a shot of pure youthfulness as anything found in myth or legend. Yet ‘Waited Up ’Til It Was Light’ isn’t throwaway fare designed to drift out of student stereos as summer approaches, more like a snapshot of young life rendered in swathes of bright melody and enough energy and exuberance to make Katie White look like a Neurosis fan. It’s brash, messy, gloriously noisy and tinged with moments of beguiling honesty; just like growing up has its skyscraping ups and pit-of-doom downs.

A couple of weeks ago, guitarist Alexei Berrow expressed his delight at the album’s scrappiness, and rightly so. ‘Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes’ can barely contain itself, as frenzied handclaps try to keep time with fuzzy guitars played with far more heart than technical ability, which, in the age of Pro Tools and polish, is just how it should be. And previous single ‘Our Bipolar Friends’ is a spunky lesson in pure dynamism, like The Descendents wrestling Braid in a paddling pool full of Sonic Youth’s ‘Goo’ – all tumbling rhythms and perfectly pitched boy-girl singalongs courtesy of Berrow and Kelly Southern – but it’s one of the band’s earliest songs, ‘Yes! You Talk Too Fast’, which will end up on most mixtapes. It’s a wonderfully tuneful workout, like going on a bouncy castle after three pints: breathless fun that could descend into chaos but which ends in a heap of sweaty limbs and smiles wide enough to be seen from space.

And while ‘Waited…’ more than impresses as a collection of raucous singalongs, it’s the heartstrings threaded throughout that make it an album to fall in love with and Johnny Foreigner a band to believe in. Whether it’s Berrow’s paranoia (“Hot girls know the words to our songs and I’m terrified of what comes next”, he yelps on ‘Yr All Just Jealous’) or the way ‘Sometimes, In The Bullring’’s “I will wait for you at work when all your early shifts run late” feels like a text message you’ve always wanted to receive from That Girl You Like, every arms-aloft high and teary low adds more colour to this picture of perfect youth. It’s a record equally suited to the house party at the end of the world or the quiet moment before dawn when the planet is at its most beautiful. If you’re looking for a new logo to scribble on your English folder or a tune to hum while walking home alone after a night out, you’re in safe hands with Johnny Foreigner.

Ben Patashnik

Johnny Foreigner - 'Waited Up ’Til It Was Light' available now from the NME Store.

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