Remember when Super Furry Animals songs used to go so fast it sounded like they’d implode before they got to the end? ‘God! Show Me Magic’, ‘Something For The Weekend’ and ‘The International Language Of Screaming’ are three which spring quickly to mind. Listening to these songs was a pure, unadulterated adrenaline rush. Still is, actually. Add in a bit of power-pop jangle from ‘Grand Prix’ era Teenage Fanclub and a little of ‘Barafundle’ era Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and you’re somewhere close to the recipe for ‘Jonny’ by Jonny.
Norman ‘Fannies’ Blake and Euros ‘Gorky’s’ Childs are the unspectacularly named Jonny (named after the photo above, which adorns the album cover) and the music is every bit as good as such a collaboration might suggest. Sun-kissed Sixties jangle crossed with yearning meditations on affairs of the heart appears to be the order of the day, with a few psych-lite moments thrown in along the way. Opener ‘Wich Is Wich’ has the aforementioned energetic SFA charm, while lead single ‘Candyfloss’ possesses the kind of yearningly melancholic chorus which Teenage Fanclub master in, these two wonderful voices combining to charming effect.
Lyrically, ‘Jonny’ has plenty of tales of love pursued and love lost. ‘Circling The Sun’ is a typically classy tale of delirious romance from Blake, with gorgeously crooned lines like “will I stay in your heart, will our days be spent apart?” However, such a delicate touch is not always the favoured approach. ‘Bread’ is a song about the many and varied types of yeasty product, featuring the chorus line “hats off to those who make bread”. At one point, Euros sings “sandwich, baguette or morning toast” only for the backing vocals to kick in, and when you hear this you will accept it for the genius move that it is, with “or morning toast” as if it were the most meaningful phrase in the English language. The phrase “the kind of voice that would sound good singing the phone book” gets bandied around a fair bit. Well, with ‘Bread’, this is a chance to hear everyday words delivered with aplomb.
‘Cave Dance’ bursts out of the speakers practically begging to be accompanied by a hand-jive routine of some kind, before breaking down into a noodling electronic haze. While there are a number of songs competing for the title, ‘Waiting Around For You’ is the album’s highlight, sounding uncannily like an extra track from ‘Rubber Soul’ which has somehow never previously been noticed. The swaggering guitar and hyperactive organ stabs bring to mind ‘The Word’ and ‘Drive My Car’, whilst the lyrics “the man in the moon is laughing at me” aren’t difficult to imagine in a Liverpudlian burr.
Euros Childs’ solo releases have come thick and fast and quality control hasn’t always been at the forefront of his mind, whilst Teenage Fanclub haven’t really ventured past mid-paced since the Nineties ended. This is no bad thing and they’ve released some beautiful albums, as has Childs for that matter, but don’t be fooled into thinking that ‘Jonny’ can’t be a beautifully sung, charmingly simple and utterly exhilarating listen. Because it is.