Junk Drawer are a glorious shambles. Featuring brothers Jake and Stevie Lennox, Brian Coney and Rory Dee; the Belfast quartet trade instruments with a reckless abandon. In a live setting, you get the impression that it could all fall apart at any moment. They just about pull it off, making a good noise while they’re at it.
This can be said of their sound and overall vibe, too. The heavy topics addressed on their debut album ‘Ready For The House’ are set against impressionistic takes on standard song structures. If Pavement cared equally about Can and Daniel Johnston, they might have sounded like this.
Opening track What I’ve Learned / What I’m Learning for one sees the Brothers Lennox trade vocal duties. Its tempo flits from rambling to blistering at its halfway point. Dealing with the existential dread we all do at certain times in our lives, it’s a brooding number. It offers only a snapshot of the minds of its creators. Next up is the award-winning Year Of The Sofa. Played with a nonchalance that Malkmus & Co. could only dream of, it boasts tasteful falsetto and climbing instrumentation. Meanwhile ‘Mumble Days’ is uplifting, with spiralling riffs and lyrics that address the band members’ mental health issues.
‘Ready For The House’ offers a myriad of tones, keeping a solid ‘90s American underground sound overall. INFJ, however, features measured guitar slides and overdriven bends fitting it’s ambiguous subject matter, hinting at classic rock influences. Temporary Day’s blissful, psychedelic ‘70s feel furthers this. Its see-saw rhythm sees Jake’s musings on the importance of taking responsibility and control of one’s own mental well-being underpinned by solid keys.
The slow-burning Pile reluctantly closes the album. Sluggish, distorted guitars and lethargic vocals crawl towards a huge chorus. A strong closing track, the song fittingly burns itself out towards its finish.
It’s clear that the writing and recording process alike was a cathartic experience for the band, many of the songs delving into topics surrounding mental illness and deeply personal, dark tales. Pile was in part inspired by an incident that saw Stevie wandering the streets of Dublin in an epilepsy medication induced stupor, not knowing who he even was. It’s a real, bare-bones record, offering a candid and unfiltered view of the band’s own issues in a very relatable way, perfectly framed with eccentric, lo-fi rock.