Big Joanie - Back Home Music Album Reviews

Big Joanie - Back Home Music Album Reviews
On the UK trio’s first LP for Kill Rock Stars, the band fleshes out its riot-grrrl-meets-girl-group sound with electronics and strings while singing of strength and vulnerability.

UK trio Big Joanie make music that doubles as an act of resistance, drawing on riot grrrl’s raucous energy and ’60s girl-group harmonies to carve out space for Black feminist punks in London and beyond. Following the release of their debut, 2018’s fortifying Sistahs, vocalist and guitarist Stephanie Phillips, bassist Estella Adeyeri, and drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone signed to Kill Rock Stars in an ideal alignment of the planets; the influential Washington label’s catalog of underground punk rock is a lodestar for Big Joanie’s sparse, fuzzed-out style and DIY ethos. On Back Home, their first LP for the label, the band expands its palette with electronics and strings while focusing its lyrics on gaining strength through vulnerability, making for some of the trio’s best songwriting to date.

Back Home revolves around conceptions of home, whether in a domestic or psychological sense. The lilting ballad “Count to 10” loops tinkling Casio keys as Phillips sweetly weighs the pros and cons of nesting with someone: “I would like to come home with you/I know that you might be untrue,” she sings; “Take a chance/What else should I do?” On the grungy bruiser “Happier Still,” Phillips zeroes in on a way to get through the worst depressive episodes: “I feel happier/Happier/Happier still,” she repeats against pummeling power chords; “There’ll be no fear/No fear/No fear here.” The bellowed mantra grows increasingly invigorating as she wills herself toward peace of mind.

Once again working with producer Margo Broom, Big Joanie have augmented their sound for bigger stages, accompanying muscular riffs with modulating synths and atmospheric instrumentation. On the late-album standout “I Will,” Phillips aims piercingly for the heart over an electronic organ: “You build a house, you build a roof, you build a happy home,” she chants, keeping pace with Adeyeri’s melodic bassline. “You make it bigger, make it stronger for another soul/And if it doesn’t make it better it’ll fill a hole.” The band circles around Phillips’ voice, evoking a similar slow-burning build to its stripped-back 2020 cover of Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky.” The stuttering “Sainted,” meanwhile, pulls from darkly alluring ’80s synth pop; the unsteady drum machine beneath Phillips’ voice patters like a nervous heartbeat, giving the song a delectably gothic tinge.

Back Home’s lyrics are wry and loaded with self-reflection. “I always make the same mistakes/Don’t tell me I should learn from them,” chirp the backing vocals on the chugging “Taut.” The trio carries the same thread on “Today,” where swooning backing harmonies and violin (played by No Home’s Charlotte Valentine) bolster Phillips’ crooning, bittersweet appeals to know where she stands in a relationship. “Just let me know if I’m in the way,” she begs, lending further weight to an emotional haymaker.

On the dreamy centerpiece “In My Arms,” Big Joanie reach an anthemic high. “I’ve compromised too many times in my life,” Phillips insists, surrounded by backing harmonies and surf-rock guitar, “One day I’ll make the great escape/And send another you away/But now I dream/Of only you in my arms.” On the song’s reprise, the group slows the song down to a crawl with a thudding, Ronettes-style backbeat and feedback-heavy guitar, cushioning each yearning word in echo. Back Home provides heart-rending moments alongside its punk grit, expanding on Big Joanie’s sound without loosening their bite bite.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Big Joanie - Back Home Music Album Reviews Big Joanie - Back Home Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 14, 2022 Rating: 5


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