In this week of French people singing in English, here’s a couple more. Unlike Sebastian Tellier though, John and Jehn have actually made their home in London and they’re very very unlikely to ever be asked to represent their country at Eurovision. Not if they insist on playing their lo-fi Velvets-inspired art rock anyway.
After posting 20 L 07 a few weeks back and being quite impresses by that, I’ve been looking forward to hearing the whole album. After a few listens though, I’m not totally convinced, still not really feeling it. In a way John and Jehn tick the right boxes. The monochrome shots, the studied Gallic cool, the minimalist sound, the apparent Gainsbourg influences. I had hoped that the album would be much more than that, but what’s bugging me is the real lack of decent tunes in the songs.
The album is split into two sides (this is obviously just about making a point on a CD though) – a 'John side' and a 'Jehn side'. I don’t know if this is because they’ve written the songs for their respective sides, or if it’s meant to represent something more profound. All I know is that the Jehn side (tracks 6-10) is better, with more in the way of tunes, and the fuzzy guitars, cheap keyboards and boy-girl vocals just tend to work more effectively here. It’s like after messing about for five tracks, it begins to come together. So there are pleasures to be had on this record for sure, aside from 20 L 07, most notably You, Far Away and 1,2,3, but as a whole it could easily be accused of style over substance.
Download: John & Jehn – You, Far Away
Download: John & Jehn – 1,2,3
Buy John & Jehn from Rough Trade.