With the sort of acerbic, sniping wit, that the clever lad in your group excelled in, The Private Memoirs… thankfully retains The Just Joans signature ‘tiny tales’ of normal people. This was always enough, in the same way that Belle and Sebastian were so essential for their nastier stories of the little life.
However, since expanding from the Katie/David Pope duo to a fully formed six piece band, The Just Joans have been able to expand their aesthetic from the largely twee dominated, to include inflections of just about everything that is/was endearing about Scottish indie pop and C86.
Thankfully, the twee inflected indie pop that dominated their early days, is still there and is best represented in the jangled fragility of Who Does Susan Think She Is (see below), The One I Loathe The Least and People I Once Knew. For committed fans of the band these tracks are like sitting down with a long time mate, where you can enjoy each others company, without really having to say too much. All very warm and comfortable in the best sense of the word.
However, it’s in the new expansive sound that the band have certainly excelled. Hey Ho, Let’s Not Go, Wee Guys (Bobby’s Got a Punctured Lung), The Older I Get The More I Don’t Know and My Undying Love for You is Beginning to Die (see below), increase the tempo, add the ramshackle of C86 and the slightest of jangly lo-fi and timid retro keys to sound like The Pastels lying down with The Vaselines.
There is always a tendency among music fans to hanker for the sounds of a bands’ yesteryear. If nothing else it emphasizes an affinity with a band that is more than just today…however with The Just Joans the today (in which I include You Might Be Smiling Now album from 2017) is very much their best work, despite the stiff competition.