You know how Humphrey Bogart explodes across the screen in The Maltese Falcon, firing his dialogue like the rat-a-tat of a tummy gun? Well on their 2010 debut, First Sign Of Delirium, The Janitors are Bogie as Sam Spade, positively burning. The surprising thing is that on their debut, The Janitors were clearly moulded in the shadow of Black Rebel. This is not only rock ‘n’ roll, this is excellent rock ‘n’ roll.
Like Bogie it’s deeply American, to hear a Swedish band sound so American is startling, when you hear the word “baby” being used it’s worth remembering this is the same band that would go onto make ‘E-Bow’. The vocals hear are sung, shouted and sneered whereas by Drone Head they would be crooned and drawled. Pleasingly, J. Eriksson can nail both styles. One thing evident is that right from the start The Janitors rhythm section is a solid steel superstructure that Isambard Kingdom Brunel would want to turn into a steamship.
From the opening strains of ‘Time On My Side’ the bass delivers a heart pounding salvo that stirs the blood. The drums might as well be played on your chest, they’re of such immediacy. Meanwhile the guitars hurl armour piercing, acid dipped arrows into your brain. ‘Run’ offers a chorus so brilliantly simplistic you want to pin it up in bus shelters. ‘Burn’ almost sounds like a straight down the line Jesus & Mary Chain. ‘Comeback’ has an iron rigidity that makes The Empire State Building look wobbly.
The beauty of the music here is it’s hard, but fleet footed, tough, but seductive. The Janitors understand that rock ‘n’ roll is for dancing to. They can even get away with the obligatory slowies, with ‘Away’ sounding like a cross between ‘On The Beach’ by The Chameleons and an obscure Madchester tune. ‘Sick State’ heralds the road to Drone Head which The Janitors happily trotted down, propelled by a sticky, fuzzy undercurrent. ‘City’ starts off in 4:3 before switching into glorious widescreen.
If you love BRMC you need to own this album. Whiney, mouth-breathing naysayers may complain it’s too indebted to that band, but when rock ‘n’ roll is as pitch perfect and exciting as this, who cares? Here’s what you do: you play Take Them On, On Your Own and First Sign Of Delirium back to back, crank the music loud, crack open a bottle of something alcoholic and get ready to feel the voltage.