Album Review: Big Joanie – Sistahs

Fresh from touring from Europe with Parquet Courts, London-based DIY feminist punk band Big Joanie have released their debut LP Sistahs on Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz’ The Daydream Library Series.

Lead single ‘Fall Asleep’ is undoubtedly one of the best of the year; a brilliant slice of fuzzy guitar pop that is catchy as anything you’ll hear, made even better by the wave of synths present throughout and Chardine Taylor-Stone’s huge sounding drums.  Noisy, melodic and full of depth, ‘Fall Asleep’ can be seen as setting the tone for the rest of Sistahs. ‘How Could You Love Me?’ is pure pop filtered through punk and DIY influences with its Shangri-Las-esque spoken word inserts and spindly, sparse almost-Duritti Column solo between choruses, whereas ‘Down Down’ sounds like The Ventures happened across a tube screamer – Estella Adeyeri’s bass line hypnotically punctuating the whole song.  Surf, fuzz-pop, grunge are all present here and Big Joanie pull them off with aplomb, putting them through their own filter and placing their unique stamp on all they turn their hand to.

But to solely focus on the sound of Sistahs would be to miss out on a vital component of what makes this record as good as it is – Stephanie Phillips’ lyrics. Across the 11 tracks that make up the album, Stephanie’s words are potent and powerful in their simplicity no matter what topic they are tackling. ‘Token’ is one of the album’s standouts and also one of the best examples of this.  A blast at “middle class white people who only hang out with middle class white people” and who tokenise “one black person they like” according to Stephanie, the song’s lyrics of “all of my friends are white, all of my friends are rich” don’t skirt around the issue. Why should they? The problem is clear and directness is needed and Stephanie’s words, and the message within them, embody that brilliantly.  A tour de force in simplicity and saying what you mean, everyone could take a leaf out of Stephanie’s book here.

Simply put Big Joanie’s debut LP Sistahs it a stellar record, a vital piece of work and one that you need to hear immediately.