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Jonny: UK Team-Up Yields Hooks Galore

Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Euros Child unleash bubblegum pop-rock in Jonny. Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Euros Child unleash bubblegum pop-rock in Jonny.

On the heels of last year’s incredible Teenage Fanclub album, Shadows, comes a new record from Jonny, a pop-rock duo masterminded by Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and Euros Childs of Welsh alt-rock band Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. Their self-titled debut album is a collection of super catchy tunes with a strong bubblegum flavor. While that lightness sometimes begs for a little edge, Jonny ultimately pulls it off by injecting a little balance now and again.

The album opens with “Wich Is Wich” a jaunty pop number that sets the tone for the whole record. This thing is never going to be heavy or dark - it’s straight up pop songwriting with an emphasis on delivering hooks that linger in your ears long after the tracks have stopped.

The theme continues on “Candyfloss,” another upbeat number with buzzing bass guitar, jangly guitars, and organ-style keys rounding out the sound. On display to great effect here are Jonny's dual vocals. The harmonies are rich, and nearly constant, which cranks the sweetness factor on the songs. When one of the singers starts to hit his falsetto, the effect is doubled.

Come to think of it, the whole album is really just a short hop from the Filmation and Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the ‘60s and ‘70s, like The Archies or Josie and the Pussycats or Groovie Goolies, which featured pretty catchy bubblegum pop tunes themselves. Jonny songs like “Waiting Around For You” are the type you’d expect to hear on Banana Splits or during a chase scene in the second season of Scooby-Doo Where Are You? And there’s an organ line on “Goldmine” that you'd swear is cribbed straight from one of those classic kids’ shows.

As fun as the record is, there are points where the lightness starts to fatigue the listener. The songs are fun, but thankfully, tracks like “You Was Me” and “Circling the Sun” change the pace a little by laying things back and introducing some lyrics with more substance, providing a necessary respite from the candy-coated numbers.

Buts not everything’s coming up buttercups here. For instance, while the backing vocal "oohs" on “English Lady” are endearing enough, the song lacks the mood and fun of Jonny’s best moments.

In fact, as Jonny reaches its backend, there are a couple other subpar songs, like the annoying “Bread” and the interminable “Cave Dance.” On the other hand, “The Goodnight” and “I Want to Be Around” hold up just fine, and even the pseudo-country “I’ll Make Her My Best Friend” works well. Jonny ends with a melancholy piano ballad, “Never Alone,” which keeps it clean and simple, an apt parting note. There’s no denying that Norman Blake and Euros Childs are top-notch songwriters, and even if Jonny will never yield either artist’s magnum opus, it’s still worth a spin for fans of bubblegum pop-rock and old cartoons.

 

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Jonny is so unabashedly sweet they named their first single Candyfloss.
Last modified on Thursday, 13 September 2012 17:11

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