Desperate Journalist: Maximum Sorrow!

A full length which sprung a consistent group of singles ahead of its release, and which seems capable of producing even more due to the fine quality of the rest of its album tracks, Maximum Sorrow!, the fourth album by North London post punks, Desperate Journalist, finds the band coming on strong, on the verge of a major breakthrough regarding both their songwriting quality, and the extent of their appeal.

Fault was the hard hitting dark cut which originated the band's return and commenced the new album by being its introductory single. It was a punch with an exposed nerve, showing the band's intentions for lyrically acute and all around insightful musicianship. The singles which followed, Personality Girlfriend and Everything You Wanted, revealed more aspects of Desperate Journalist's gist; the first through a more congenial way, without forfeiting any of the expressive bitingness, and the latter by way of a deeper existential tone.

All this suggested a record of many levels and that's what the band ultimately delivered. For it the band turned to an unusual source of inspiration, an older project by Kevin Bewersdorf which carried the same title.

No one is capable of describing the link between those two works of art than the band themselves. Singer, Jo Bevan, writes: "Firstly, the album title: One of my favourite artists of the last twenty years is Kevin Bewersdorf, an early-ish proponent of what was initially called 'net art'. One of his main creations was a project called Maximum Sorrow, which incorporated stock images and corporate design elements juxtaposed with a kind of Taoist spirituality. The concept was based on the idea that once you reach a point of full saturation of melancholy, then you can't absorb any more, and you are thus free - or it could also be a slogan for a company offering incredibly efficient misery delivered directly into your brain from the Information Superhighway. Many of the works have been deleted from the internet now sadly but you can find some images and essays he wrote if you look hard enough. The thing which really appealed about this project was the fact that initially, due to the jargon inherent in the nascent global-business-data-optimist-ecommerce world which the imagery was lifted from, it was difficult to tell whether the intention was satirical or earnest - and now I am pretty sure that it's equal parts of both. Bewersdorf's work very much resonates with me as your classic sad self-aware millennial, concerned with meaning and authenticity whilst surrounded by culture with a thousand layers of irony all over it - and of course the aesthetic appealed, growing up as my generation did in an ever more commercialised, smoothed and shined, soulless-looking world."

Desperate Journalist prove themselves capable of translating something so convoluted to a coherent work of different statuses and moods which vary from goth pop to alternative rock psychedelia. Occasionally  more galvanizing, habitually more somber than the average guitar-driven indie rock of the last few years, and as world-weary as its title suggests, the group's fourth album doesn't entirely feel like the exact personification of maximum sorrow, but it seems to be an appropriate soundtrack for one's journey toward it and back.



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