Quick but not Simple
Like their debut album Weird Sisters, which was released on Fortuna Pop!/Slumberland just two years ago, Peanut Butter plays with extremes, dances around clichés and absolutely laughs in the face of tradition. With the syrupy-sweet pop choruses of songs like “Psykick Espionage” creating a contrast with shouty, edgier tracks like “Last Year,” Joanna Gruesome manages to incorporate a great deal of variety into their album. But more importantly, within each track lies many different influences, production choices and interesting chord deviations. While some of the songs on their sophomore release barely manage to extend past the two-minute mark, all of them engage and hold the interest of the listener.
Occasionally the balance Joanna Gruesome strikes between fragility and pseudo-toughness does falter and leaves the listener thrown off a bit. Perhaps it is the occasional gentler tracks, like “Separate Bedrooms” that lull us into sleepiness, or maybe it’s the sheer peppiness of some of the choruses, but one can’t help but feel a bit betrayed when this group does fail to achieve that perfect balance. An example of one such track is “I Don’t Want To Relax,” which begins with a grating, white-noise sort of intro.
Overall, Joanna Gruesome has created something interesting and valuable with Peanut Butter. There is variety, but it’s not patchwork; the differences serve a purpose in each track. The influences behind Peanut Butter are audible. For example, the shouting lyrics are reminiscent of The Runaways, and Alanna Gruesome’s breathier, poppier vocals bring to mind The Cardigans. It is refreshing to see a group unflinchingly embrace every side of themselves when writing songs. However, the shortness of the songs and pacing of the music itself gives the listener the feeling that the album is rushing us through, or even trying to outrun itself. It gives itself no time to breathe.