Album of the Day: Desperate Journalist, “In Search of the Miraculous”

Desperate Journalist emerged from London’s music scene in the mid-2010s, sounding like they had just stepped out of a time-warp portal from 1984. The quartet’s first two records exuded inky post-punk vibes: mascara-streaked groovy basslines, Smiths-esque foggy guitar chime, and Jo Bevan’s powerful, acrobatic voice. These inspirations remain prominent on Desperate Journalist’s third album, In Search of the Miraculous, although the new music also possesses strikingly modern clarity: “Black Net” boasts spidery, Cure-like drum clatter and a rumbling low end, while glacial guitar chime pierces “Girl Of The Houses.”  

The record’s stark palette is partly owed to to its bolder production approach, which amplifies every instrument in the band’s arsenal while maintaining instrumental crispness, and increasing sonic audacity; Bevan’s vocals, in particular, resonate more fearlessly throughout, powered by a winning combination of rich vibrato and theatrical range. In Search of the Miraculous is also bookended by two of the band’s most aggressive statements yet. The churning opening track “Murmuration” trudges forward on a foundation built on heavy, glammy guitar crunch, while the spry closer “To Be Forgotten” is dissected by searing electrified riffs. In between, Desperate Journalist play off the evocative sounds that have since become their signature: sugar-spun dream-pop (“Cedars”), wiry, exuberant Britpop (“Jonatan”), and stunning, gothic-tinted piano ballads (“Argonauts”). In Search of the Miraculous proves Desperate Journalist aren’t looking to retrace old steps, but transcend eras altogether.

-Annie Zaleski

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