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JUNK DRAWER release debut album ‘Ready For The House’ today via Art For Blind

April 24, 2020
Photo Credit: Billy Woods

 Junk Drawer Release Debut Album ‘Ready For The House’

Out Now Via Art Is Blind

Belfast quartet Junk Drawer announce debut album ‘Ready For The House’, out via Irish indie label Art For Blind today. Channelling the likes of PavementSilver JewsBeak> and more with their shapeshifting sound, the four-piece veer between slacker-rock,post-punkkrautrock and swirling psych across 7 sprawling, chaotic vignettes of personal malady and recovery.

Whilst the music across the record conforms to the abstract nature of the genre influences, the themes offer a blunt catharsis. Lyrical duties are split between brothers Jake and StevieLennox, the fraternal link resulting in sentiment that is two sides of the same coin.

Both relate, with varying viewpoints, to similar ideas of malaise & self-worth, showcasing the transience of mental illness and touching upon the fragmented, distorted narrative that it brings with it. This includes all manner of manifestations such as eating disorders & substance abuse. The early/mid-Twenties personality crisis is very much a prevailing mood.

Opener ‘What I’ve Learned / What I’m Learning’ is the one track on the album with both brothers singing lead vocals, a primer for what’s to come, as Jake’s lucid psychedelia combines with Stevie channelling a hysterical, sardonic ‘state of the nation’ internal address that comes in moments of emotional volatility.

Jake’s lyrical inclination tends towards the poetic – chronicling a struggle with sexual identity and eating disorders, and the strain of the constant internalisation of these issues on mental health, as on ‘Mumble Days’. And he expands on this on ‘Temporary Day’, which as he explains “…is about having a temporary day of relief from all the horrible feelings I usually have. The fog ascends briefly & I can think clearly for a time.”

Stevie, on the other hand, writes with the resigned perspective of someone who’s played every scenario out before even trying, generally delivered in broad strokes, in a derisive and abstract way.

‘Year of the Sofa’ for example was written in brief moments of clarity in a hazy period of returning to live with parents, after epilepsy and unemployment allowed escapism via box set to prevail against action (convinced that binging Mad Men held all the answers).

In this sense, his writing on the album is about coming to terms with this cynicism that was feeding into depression, eventually peaking with ‘Pile’ – the mirror image of Jake’s‘Mumble Days’, in that it’s his first sincere admission that something is wrong, and that it’s acceptable to simply ask for help. This was inspired by a series of events that include wandering around Dublin without knowing who he was for a number of hours due to poor medication & epilepsy, as well as the realisation that almost all his friends were suffering from poor mental health, with some scares at the time.

Talking about the track Stevie says: “Somewhat masochistically, there are some tears in the vocal performance in ‘Pile’ that we decided to leave on the album, which ends with a collage of words, some briefly becoming clear before obscuring again, much like the cloud of depression, and how the neurological condition made simple communication difficult, and getting one simple moment of contentment and lucidity was key.”

Though the subjects tackled are darkly personal on the whole, the writing of the album was therapeutic for the group, and at moments of warmth and colour this hope is felt. Consequently both writers reach their own inner resolve as the album progresses. The backdrop is a (largely) post-conflict country where suicide is double that of England, most notably amongst the unemployed. A country where the default mood is resigned cynicism and doubt, where more people have died by suicide since peace was declared than directly from The Troubles’ violence. The resolution to the album is about realising that progress, and happiness, starts with seizing those light moments, little victories in a microcosmic way that can start to infiltrate the bigger picture.

The four-piece have already built up a lot of acclaim in their native Ireland, becoming the first DIY act ever to win a Northern Ireland Music Award for Best Single, as well as live slots with icons in Mclusky, Built To Spill and Grandaddy. They’re also responsible for spearheading a community of Irish grassroots artists with vinyl compilation ‘A Litany of Failures’, which has become an institution.

Sharing instruments during sets, each member of the band is a multi-instrumentalist, and they are: Stevie Lennox (Guitar, Synth & Vocals), Jake Lennox (Guitar, Synth, Bass, Drums & Vocal), Brian Coney (Guitar & Bass) and Rory Dee (Drums, Guitar, Bass, Synth, Piano & Backing Vocals).

In its entirety, this 7 track album is a vivacious effort from the promising band. The band cover such great depths within their outlook. The record initially starts off with dark plodding beats, scratchy guitars and lucrative lyrics before the quartet tear down the boundaries they initiated. What they’ve created in this record is fun and ferocious.

This 4 piece know how to write perfect orchestrations- they know how to hook their listener. As the release flirts with its post-punk ties, its rock roots and ample psych essence- but it’s the surreal unpredictability they’ve thrown deep into their tracks which makes for an essential and inspiring listen. Alternating time signatures, a contagious wall of sound and their daring deliverance. Each track collides effortlessly into the next for a melodic, memorable, loud and stand-out debut.

Ready For The House’ was produced by Chris Ryan (Just Mustard) and is out via Art For Blind today.


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