Ah, Lanarkshire! Once a hotbed of industrial activity, it has now become a hotbed of musical talent. With the likes of Coogs, Killer Comanche, Rockburn and the soon to be legendary Full Tonne Band, the area is just alive with variety. Just to prove that there is no end to the quality and choice, we can now add the quirky pop sounds of The Just Joans with the release of their second album "Virgin Lips".
Each song on this album is a part of a whole - the story of the life and loves of young people growing up in a once great industrial town. Only, it is not the glamorous people that are the subjects of song this time. To put things in context, there once was film called Gregory's Girl (check it out as it is a classic made way back in 1981) about teenage angst or at least the confused attempt at angst that only ill fitting adolescents can manage when they realise that aren't going to get a shot at the prom queen. Why the film reference? Well, this collection of songs covers the very theme of this film in just 9 short, sweet songs. You could almost say that it would have made the perfect soundtrack to that movie if it had been released way back when.
But to the songs. Opening with "Virgin Lips", the tone is set for the album as Katie sings that she has indeed been kissed "…but you wouldn't know him as he lives in Larkhall". Starting with a delicate classical piano figure, the rather more mournful "Lookin' like Rain" tells of the sad day when the protagonist of the song gets dumped by his girlfriend in a rain soaked public park. "Just Another Lunchtime Affair" picks up the tempo and goes all indie pop on us as rumours are exposed in under one and a quarter minutes. Now we get to a cracker with "Bellshill Station" - Bluesbunny cannot recall any previous attempts to romanticise a suburban railway station let alone turn it into a drama ranking with that black and white tearjerker movie Brief Encounter. Just in case that you thought that only young guys did irrational things in the pursuit of love and kisses, the Just Joans throw in a slice of equality with "These Boots are made for Stalking" as Katie declares that "…I just want my share of kisses" in a very worrying way. This is a sweet and touching collection of songs that possess a warmth and humanity missing from so much music nowadays and this Bluesbunny was left wanting more.
In addition, this album from the Just Joans is yet another delightful release from Wee Pop Records in their customary handmade sleeves giving us packaging that perfectly complements the contents. Well worth tracking this one down (and do it soon as it is a very limited release!). Get it from Wee Pop! Records at their website.