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desperatejournalist maximumsorrow
Artist: Desperate Journalist
Title: Maximum Sorrow!
Genre: Alt-Pop
Release Date: 23rd July 2021
Label: Cargo Records

Album Review

Back when the world made marginally more sense, I got to review DESPERATE JOURNALIST’s third album ‘In Search Of The Miraculous’, and rather reluctantly gave it 9/10. Reluctantly, only because I am grumpy. And because 9/10 is - in my opinion - as good as it gets, so we can’t have too many of those flying around, now can we? With new album ‘Maximum Sorrow!’ things get interesting right from the off, with a title that’s clever without being cute - based on a concept by Kevin Bewersdorf that artistic freedom can come once a saturation point of melancholy has been reached (so that’s how Robert Smith managed although those annoyingly happy songs with THE CURE then), this works on so many levels, both musically, and as a statement of intent for going forwards generally in these times of great turmoil. And because of grumpiness, I’m very curious indeed to see what exists beyond the saturation of melancholy, and how it all feels once this nirvana is achieved…

The layered, sparkling vocals easing us into ‘Formaldehyde’ dazzles from the off, a bold and beautiful opening gambit, before the spiky, jerky ebb and flow of ‘Fault’ picks up the more familiar DESPERATE JOURNALIST sound… although it all feels fabulously deconstructed and reassembled….less guitar, more space, a busy and yet expansive propulsion of parts. This is superior song-writing. There’s bounce and attitude and wonkiness and humour all over the ecstatic pop genius of ‘Personality Girlfriend’, a song that could easily be two different classics melted into one - there’s almost a greediness of ideas here, jostling for attention.

And on it goes. A glut of lyrical gems reminiscent of MORRISSEY back when he mattered, especially on ‘Armageddon’, urgent Post Punk finery on ‘Fine In The Family’, and a gorgeous patient unravelling on the wonderfully sung ‘Utopia’. ‘Everything You Wanted’ has a self-assured massive urgency wrapped around itself, and by this stage there’s almost a nagging need to find just something a bit crap here or there. But no. It’s not going to happen. There’s even a meandering slow-pacer in ‘What You’re Scared Of’ that initially fools you into self-doubt, but soon burbles up from its apparent slumber and kicks you between the eyes and pulls your ears off just because it can. Hugely intense without ever wandering into melodrama or self-indulgence, this is a rare trick indeed. And to wave goodbye, there’s the simple jangle of ‘Was It Worth It’ gradually building itself up to a euphoric climax. Was it worth it? Why, yes. Yes, it was.

And so, having glimpsed the possibilities of life beyond the melancholy, ‘Maximum Sorrow!’ is without any doubt a 9/10 album, further pushing the boundaries and exploring the limits, in a simple, unfussy and refreshingly unpretentious way. No need for grumpiness here. Magnificent stuff.


01. Formaldehyde
02. Fault
03. Personality Girlfriend
04. Armageddon
05. Fine In The Family
06. Utopia
07. Everything You Wanted
08. Poison Pen
09. The Victim
10. What You’re Scared Of
11. Was It Worth It


Jo Bevan – Vocals
Simon Drowner – Bass Guitar
Rob Hardy – Guitar
Caroline Helbert – Drums

Website /

Cover Picture

desperatejournalist maximumsorrow


Music: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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