Following 2017’s acclaimed debut God Speed In The National Limit, a European tour with IDLES and a session with Seattle’s KEXP, Crystal Palace based two-piece JOHN return with the release of their new album on the 4th October via Pets Care Records. Out Here On The Fringes once again embraces the limitations of their number, expanding the idiosyncrasies of their stripped back approach. Certain tracks do, however, offer additional instrumentation, with a number of guests subtly woven between the angular guitar and drum lines that JOHN have become celebrated for.
Lead track/single Future Thinker – A recent winner on Steve Lamacq’s BBC 6music Roundtable – features Chloe Herington (Saxophonist for Knifeworld/Chromehoof). Her appearance signalling an intent to push beyond more repetitive traditions expected of the genre. This is no less apparent on track Dog Walker, with minimal violins (provided by artist Rosanna Dean) cutting across the thunderous rumble of percussion.
The album’s title and artwork (produced by vocalist/drummer John Newton) helps provide a broad but grounded context for the set of tracks: a series of narratives taken from experiences of life on the edge of the city. A unified landscape is established early on, and recurring nods to the detritus of the city (‘Ancient carpet and ancient mud, I found this stain…’ in Standard Hauntings / ‘If I’m a black box, then let me sleep or throw me to the deep’ in Solid State) help evoke the dilemma of sustainability in our present. Similarly, Midnight Supermarket – perhaps the most surprising track on the album (written by guitarist Johnny Healey in response to lyricist Newton’s title) – transports the listener into a dreamlike space, reinforcing this landscape and appearing as a distant memory of the vapid consumerism we participate in.
In spite of the implied anxiety of this imagined future, there is also a primal and joyous vigour on display throughout the track-list. Its immediacy reminds the listener that JOHN are very much a live force, and that these songs have also been created to be enjoyed collectively in space. It could well be read as a manifesto, a reminder of the potency and importance of the collaborative creative act.