The Just Joans - Virgin Lips EP
(WeePOP! POP!008, released 10 November 2007)
The Just Joans are from Motherwell, and after their album release "Last Tango In Motherwell", which featured some good songs but not so hot production, this time around as well as having a slightly different line up (enhanced by having a female vocalist, they're now Katie, Chris David, Doog and Rowan) they've got themselves an EP release on the rather twee and cute WeePOP! label, where each release is limited to a mere 120 hand made copies. Although this may sound a trifle daft to do, in fact a nice small label like WeePOP! is just perfect for their type of music.
The EP is really nicely packaged: inside the brown envelope with the artwork of the EP, there's the card sleeve with proper place to put the CD in, the little booklet, a nice certificate of authenticity which has been hand written, a sticker and a badge, and I even found a lollipop inside the envelope I'd been mailed with the whole package. In a way, the love and care that goes into the package often shows how passionate the record label are about the music, and in this instance it's certainly been proved.
"Virgin Lips" is the title track of the EP and basically explains that anyone has never kissed is deemed to be "Virgin Lips" and teases someone throughout the track in playground-esque fun about it - and even if the subject claims to be kissed there's a sense of doubt: "You wouldn't know him, cos he lives in Larkhall!" - and then just brings the chorus chant of "Virgin lips, virgin lips" but just on a faster scale. It's the sense of pause and timing that works really well. However, the best track on the EP is next, the beautifully sad "Lookin' Like Rain" which describes how a walk in the park and in the rain would result in being dumped. The piano is just simple but works really well and enhances the feeling of sadness, and there's a real feeling of sadness in the chorus: "Dumped by my lassie in the Strathie" (referring to Strathclyde Park) but also a real sense of feeling in the lyrics, how people say "oh let's be pals" after doing the dumping, which is exactly the last thing you want to hear - and the rain effects coming in near the end just add to the sadness theme. There's even a rather nice video for this one, see below:
"Never There" is next, and continues the teenage angst and love theme really well. Nice use of a telephone ring sound effect and phone call between verses here, and how when you make the phone call to someone you like they're trying to avoid you by never being in or not telling the truth, which is a real nightmare - and ends up summarising "I bet she spends a lot of time washing her hair!" - which is just the excuse you hear at times! "Just Another Lunchtime Affair" has a really nice punky guitar intro and describes how you'll meet someone at lunchtime and see what happens - short but sweet and to the point, really.
"Bellshill Station" is the other stand out track here, with some gorgeous acoustic guitar. Katie's vocals are rather nice here and describe the feeling of someone moving to London and saying how things are for them down there but asking as well how things are at home in the meantime the chorus of "One last kiss at Bellshill Station, I sat down and wept for ages" emnates throughout. Bellshill is two miles North of Motherwell, in case you wondered. There follows a rather twee cover version of The Cure's "Pictures of You", with nice use of accordion, and keeping in the same key but slower, and even a triangle features. See, told you it was twee. While nothing can top The Cure's original, this is a rather nice attempt and it's certainly listenable. There follows the interlude "Dear Joan" which is a reading like a teenage angst letter to magazines like Jackie.
"These Boots Are Made For Stalking" is immense fun - as it features a fair bit of the theme from Rugrats in the introduction, and explains that after lost love you try anything to "try and bump into you" but the way you act sounds more like stalking, which the chorus does to Rugrats rather nicely. Nice use of the piano here as well, which augments the line "I just want my share of kisses". The last track "Caracus" explains in sampled speech that where they should be is somewhere different, "eight girls to one guy!" - almost sad that they think about it, but basically a simple soundtrack set to music, almost.
But on the whole it's a rather nice slice of twee indie pop that, if you're into that sort of thing, you should check out. For the bargain price of three pounds including delivery to the UK, it's well worth a shot at, and don't be surprised if you end up singing "Virgin lips, virgin lips" subconsciously after listening to it. It's a good effort and hopefully there'll be more to come, so order your copy from WeePOP! now.
Warren's rating: 81%