The first thing always noted about John, Shelly and the Creatures is how their track ‘Long May you Reign’ features on the Discover Northern Ireland ads. You know the one. But there’s more to this Belfast band than providing a folksy ambience to a montage of Ferris wheels and rope bridges. A lot more. And the proof is in their debut album Dinosaur.
It opens with ‘Blinded and Cross’ with an intro that manages to be both distorted and melodic. Combining the simplicity of a solo mandolin and both hoarse and harmonious vocals, it’s a good indicator of what to expect from the rest of the album. Dinosaur is a collection of contradictions that on paper might suggest a jarring mess, but in reality flows along effortlessly, irrespective of its varied genres and broad range of instruments.
JSC wear their influences on their sleeves; ‘Sunny Side Street’, ‘Cold War’ and ‘Sight of your Chest’ in particular evoke the haunting strains of Elliott Smith. But it’s not all doom and gloom, standout upbeats include ‘Rust’, ‘Killer’ and of course, ‘Long May you Reign’. Elsewhere, while pop-rock ditty ‘Fools’ is an enjoyable romp, its faux-American accented intro does seem out of place, as does the song as a whole, considering the general tone of the album. Still, eleven out of twelve ain’t bad.
This debut serves to further validate JSC’s place in State’s Faces of 2010, expect to see and hear a lot more from these guys. While Dinosaur probably won’t persuade you to go on a Northern adventure with a man in a hideous pleather tan blazer, it will persuade you that JSC deserve the rising hype.