The second full-length album from Johnny5thWheel&TheCowards is available now, out on Sotones Records. Here’s our verdict…
If we are being honest here, it has to be said that the name of this album Music to Shake ‘n’ Shuffle to – falls well short of being an honest summary of the contents on this album.
A more honest, accurate title would be something like: Music to Shake ‘n’ Shuffle, Clap, Dance ‘n’ Jive, Wibble, Wobble, Bop, Gallop, Shabollop and Groove too.
True – Shabollop is a totally made up word, but in the mad, silly and joyous dimension from which this album is derived, anything goes.
From the first second of weirdly accented and punky “In My Laboratory” through the pantomime anger of “That’s Right, We’re Stealing Your Soul” and into the twinkly, unashamedly cheery “Spike” it is obvious that this is not a record which aims to stir the soul with deep meaningful platitudes.
Instead, using an irresistible mix of childish charm and clanking rhymes it has a ferociously catchy feel. Shakin’ ‘n’ Shufflin’ feel so easy with music like this, it grabs the hips and arms, enchants them into involuntary, potentially humiliating half-dances.
Subtlety is present too, it is not all just dancey, dancey clap clap. “Conversations With You When You’re Not There” is more towards the vulnerable love and angst end of the spectrum.
The change of pace is pleasant, not forced and with the bouncy vocal style there is still a real skip in the heartbeat of the song.
Accordions and a tale of stout and wine make up the amusingly rambling “My Finest Hour” whilst “Nancy” is beguilingly spooky and has its own entertainingly freakish video.
It’s slow, reflective time on “Blame in Campodia” and “Daemon” – the former bemoaning some porridge and the latter a cute twist on the traditional story of boy meets girl – “Somewhere your demon and mine, they will be together.”
The album’s longest effort “I’m Not West” clocks in at over 4 minutes and without that whippersnapper briskness that the others sharply deliver, falls a tad flat.
The “La, La, La, La’s” which make up the vast majority of “Following The Wheel Part IV” are both a ridiculous way to end an album and a perfect summary of what Johnny 5th Wheel & The Cowards have created.
“La, La, La, Laaa, La, La” – is not and never will be a valid song but it is testament to the humour and veracity of this album that rather than a track which demands to be turned off, berated and condemned as lazy, it tempts a smile across your face.
This is not an album to listen to when in need of meaningful chats and emotional comfort. This is a no chance to catch your breath, 36 minute dash of high intensity, twinkling, cheery pop music which dazzles thanks to an insistence never to be normal.
You can purchase the album, Music to Shake ‘n’ Shuffle to, from the band’s website and below is the video for the single, taken from the album “Nancy.”