If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know I’ll always try to crowbar a reference in for Jonny Cola And The A-Grades, one of my favourite bands. Yes, I did warn them that the consequence of my patronage is poverty and obscurity, but they were fabulous. Since 2014, Jonny and Jez Leather have been creating music and short films under the title of Jukebox Headaches. Last year, they released the ambitious ‘Balkan Telescope’, 20 songs of a broader spectrum than the A-Grades, but equally immersed in great pop tunes, be they of the Bowie/Cockney Rebel 70s style or of 80/90s Pet Shop Boys/Erasure, and much more besides.

Interspersed with spoken-word excerpts from their ‘Restricted Vision’ film, ‘Wigston Deli’ sees their earlier songs such as the unforgettable ‘Hey Valerie’ and ‘Jonathan’ combined with their newest tunes, but it hangs together well. From ‘Jukebox’ onwards, with its woozy, Cocteau Twins atmosphere, it’s an enjoyable journey.

Alongside main vocalist Cola, the album features contributions from country star Canadia Nash, renowned underground artist and DJ Heidi Heelz, and Caz Hellbent, drummer with indie darlings Desperate Journalist. This gives the songs a rich palette, from the pure pop stylings of ‘Nothing Happened’ to film soundtrack atmosphere of ‘Farewell Tour’. But, fear not, pop pickers! The melody is always dominant, regardless of the style of music. ‘Hey Valerie’ is probably the closest to the A-Grades’ DNA, but if you are someone who can equally appreciate the pop smarts of Bowie and Tennant, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, I’m guessing you’ll wish you’d heard them sooner.

Which is good news for you, as between the two albums so far, that gives you 32 songs to explore. And, as ever, there’s a reliable amount of smut in Jonny’s lyrics, as ‘Hollywood Sign’ shows. Equal parts euphoric and melancholy, but maybe that’s just me.

The acoustic ‘Fishwives Of Wick’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Luke Haines album, while ‘Lonestar’ ends things on a ‘Telstar’ note. As an album, it’s surprising, satisfying, and catchy by turns. You probably won’t hear anything else like it, so don’t be frightened, step into their world. And chuck  them a few quid on Bandcamp. We need the strange ones to improve our lives.

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Author: Martin Chamarette