The Just Joans – You Might be Smiling Now... (4 stars)

The Just Joans – You Might be Smiling Now . . .

A sharper take on indie pop from the Glasgow sextet

The inexorable march of time is never far from mind throughout You Might be Smiling Now..., the Just Joans' first album in more than ten years. Just as self aware as ever before, the decade wait between records has seen the band grow up (and expand, over the years, from brother/sister duo David and Katie Pope to a sprawling six-piece), but themes of adolescence, angst and heartbreak are prevalent.

'The years are running out / it's tragic, but it's true,' mourns opener 'O' Caledonia', while 'A Matter of Time' posits: 'It's just a matter of time til they break your heart / and time's so unkind.' The chasing and stealing of time is highlighted in tracks that detail teenage hormones, through 20s confusion, winding up in middle-aged resignation. 'You Make Me Physically Sick (Let's Start Having Children)'s retro 8-bit bloops underlie the tale of a couple who have settled, and aren't happy about it: 'You're dull and your tunes are shit,' taunts Katie Pope, channelling a vaporwavey Clare Grogan.

Their lo-fi self production places the record squarely in early 90s Scottish indie pop, with tongue firmly in cheek and David Pope's sarcastic cynicism a hallmark of the band's legacy. 'Johnny, Have You Come Lately' gives the teen horror of pregnancy scares a jaunty whistle-along soundtrack, while 'Reading in Public Places' is a poppy takedown of posturing lit wannabes using faux intellectualism to try to pick up women. 'Biblically Speaking' sees a young man's religion battling lust, with hormones, inevitably, winning out.

You Might be Smiling Now… is a sharper, on-the-nose take on indie pop, proving the Just Joans may be older, but, in their own whimsically nostalgic way, perhaps no wiser, and for that we can only be glad.

Out Fri 1 Dec on Fika Recordings.

The Just Joans

Bittersweet harmonies from Motherwell.

The Lexington, London N1

Sat 3 Feb 2018

£8.80 / 020 7837 5371

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