The Januaries – S/T

The Januaries may be perfect complement to the band New Wet Kojak and also this band’s polar opposite. Both bands make their mark by perfecting the ability to incorporate unbridled sensuality and libido into their music, but while New Wet Kojak do it with a kind of grimy and smoky sleaze, The Januaries do it with an aesthetic of pure pop bliss.
The best way to describe The Januaries may be by creating an entirely new genre of music: indie-lounge. These songs are most definitely pop, but they combine elements of the 60’s and 70’s with modern pop sensibilities, drawing heavily from European pop. Lead by Debbie Diamond’s sultry purred vocals that at times evoke images of Shirley Manson, this band would be the biggest thing ever if we were experiencing a 70’s revival instead of the 80’s. But still, their brand of pop, incorporating keyboards, trumpet and traditional instrumentation is lovely and purely enjoyable.
Perhaps this album’s true pop song, “Juliette” kicks things off in European pop style, with a bouncy beat, keyboard accompaniments, and sheer lighthearted energy. From that point, the songs bounce between the more playful and persistent pop and the sultry, sensual tunes. “The Girl’s Insane” is another light and airy pop number that leans toward the loungy side, made more so by the use of piano, and the gorgeous trumpet on the more bouncy “Love Has Flown” makes this another irresistible track. And like its name would suggest, “All Systems a GoGo” will have you grooving, or at least swaying emphatically.
But really, The Januaries are all about incorporating sex and sensuality into their music. Check out “Black Transmission,” which most definitely should have been used in an Austin Powers movie: “Call you up / to get me some / of your love’n hoochie / Tell me that you need it / And I’ll bring the coochie.” “Cinema Girl” seems almost seductive, slow and sultry, an atmosphere made more powerful by Diamond’s perfectly crooned vocals, and Diamond seems to flaunt with her lyrics in the more rocking “Angel Eye.” “Jon Sings” is definitely a European-flavored love song, sultry and yet charming.
Don’t feel this band is just another retro-pop outfit. Songs like “Love Met the Devil” and the softer “Chocolate and Strawberries” combine more modern grooves, even something toward an electronic sensibility, to create more sonic soundscapes that are rooted in pop but not dependant upon it. And one of the best songs here, an untitled 13th track, is a combination of bossa nova grooves, lounge vocals, and modern pop sensibilities.
This is a great album, more so in my mind because of the adorably quality of Diamond’s vocals and the purely pop beauty of these songs. The fact that many of these songs are unabashedly sexual in nature just adds to the band’s intrigue. Throw in a hefty dose of retro Euro-pop, and you get an endearing and strangely appealing mixture of sounds.