[a]Johnny Foreigner[/a] have made it big! At least you’d be forgiven for thinking that, considering the tight security around their second album, distributed to press via a tiny run of watermarked CDs and password-protected web streams. OK, it doesn’t quite hark back to the days when major label bigwigs sent out priority releases welded into Discmans, but let’s run with the hype and its inevitable question: is this their ‘OK Computer’ or a glorious folly like ‘Be Here Now’?
The answer is, slightly disappointingly, neither. Last year’s debut arrived at one of those rare moments where the band’s grassroots fanbase swelled to match the fawning hyperbole from webzines, pushing them into the public eye. This left the trio with two routes to take on ‘Grace And The Bigger Picture’: stick with their winning formula and risk plateauing or go for the big budget makeover, and possibly alienate their fans. The good news is that while ‘Grace…’ takes the former route, it feels like a consolidation of their strengths.
Listening to a Johnny Foreigner album is much like quaffing a McDonalds meal quickly: it seems like a good idea to start with, but halfway through the stomach cramps kick in. It’s fast, sugary and adrenalised, a relentless rollercoaster of jostling melodies, math-pop guitars and yelping vocals. Yell-along crowd-pleasers such as ‘Criminals’ and opener ‘Choose Yr Side And Shut Up’ push the right buttons to keep the kids pogoing in their droves. While it’s
a tad disappointing there isn’t anything here that will challenge their audience or send them skyrocketing into the mainstream, it’ll do just fine until next time.
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Click here to get your copy of Johnny Foreigner’s ‘Grace And The Bigger Picture’ from the Rough Trade shop.