Album Review: Johnny Foreigner – Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything

By on Tuesday, 8th November 2011 at 12:00 pm

In their own words, ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’ is “exactly as perfect/imperfect as we are” and “if it fails IRL, then it does so as proof we just aren’t good enough”. Safe to say there’s a lot riding on this. For all intensive purposes, Johnny Foreigner have been a nearly band. Recognition surrounding their first album ‘Waited Up Til It was Light’ never gained them the recognition it deserved, and their weaker second album ‘Grace and the Bigger Picture’ would have threatened them with obscurity had it not been for the commitment of their fans to the cause. Now, 2 years and a series of EPs and releases later, the band have re-emerged with this, their third and possibly most honest album yet.

The track listing reads as a “last 12 months’ compilation” that includes a reworks of EP tracks and the final fruition of their ‘Certain Songs are Cursed’ project in which their fans monologue their worst heartbreaks and the track that reminds them of it most. These serve as the ghosts and time frozen interludes between each section of the album.

Side 1 / Life seems personal, opening with the Johnny Foreigner of old. Powerful yet intricate, half shouted yet still understandable. “Waking up entangled doesn’t mean you’re meant to stick together, waking up alone doesn’t mean you should get drunk, split up” in ‘With Who, Who and What I’ve Got (Standard Rock)’ goes to the intimacy of ‘200x’, possibly the band’s best slower song to date. The segment ends in ‘Johnny Foreigner vs You’ which would feel intrusive if not so charming. That’s the border that Johnny Foreigner tread in this album: the line between intrusive and kind of cringy to the endearing and relatable. In the form of the interludes (’Concret1’ and ‘Concret2’), it’s possibly on the wrong side, yet they’re still needed to break up the album into sections.

Side 2 / Significance is possibly the undoing of ‘…Vs Everything’ in that it’s possibly the least significant part of the record. Each song individually makes sense, but only ‘Supermorning’ really stands out as having real character. Some songs are lyrically strong (‘Jess, You Got Yr Song, So Leave’) whilst others are just good tunes (‘Electricity Vs the Dead’) and some only have one or two perks (the buildup at the end of ‘New Street…’) but only ‘Supermorning’ combines the two really well.

Luckily, as far as solid album material goes, it’s made up for on Side 3/ Magic! as ‘(Don’t) Show Us Yr Fangs’ (video below) through to ‘The Swell/Like Neverwhere’, a track that could only work on an album with a concept such as this, prove that Johnny Foreigner are definitely not the kind of band that you can listen to once or twice and just throw into the pile.


Lex, Kel and Jun needed to make this album, and both existing fans and new fans of Johnny Foreigner, should be glad they did.


‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’, the latest album from Johnny Foreigner, is available now from Alcopop.

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[…] 2011 at 2:00 pm/**//**/ With the launch of ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’ (review here), Johnny Foreigner decided to put on two parties. Billed as VsLondon and VsBirmingham, their label […]

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