Desperate Journalist | In Search of the Miraculous (Fierce Panda)

Aren’t we all searching for a miracle while staring in the face of the mundane? Listening to Desperate Journalist is like discovering a lost tribe in your backyard, or an ancient artifact behind the dusty jars of instant coffee at your neighborhood corner shop.

In Search of the Miraculous, the group’s third album, hits a satisfying indie jangle goth spot, alluding to numerous late 1980s college rock touchstones, but mimicking none of them. Standout single “Cedars” is serious but breezy, joyously reminiscent of All About Eve’s sweeping, heart-on-sleeve dynamics. Dramatic album opener “Murmuration” channels the Church’s awesome atmospherics, sounding like random beams of weak sunlight spilling into a damp, high-vaulted stone cathedral. Try not to get a chill when Jo Bevan wails “I wanna take you like trains pass through stations,” right as a wall of distorted guitars and drums kicks in. “International Waters” features nimble vocal melodies worthy of Morrissey (sans latter-day nationalist distaste), while encoded in the DNA of the back-to-back punch of “Black Net” and “Ocean Wave” is the way late ’80s/early ’90s Cure managed to be both lighthearted and doom-laden, obfuscated and crystal clear.

Along with songwriting prowess, the versatility and skill of Desperate Journalist’s major players is one of the group’s major assets. Jo Bevan’s vocals are both achingly tender and stare-you-in-the-eyes forceful—black heart and twinkling star emoji side by side. Rob Hardy plays guitar with the inventive jangle of Johnny Marr and the emotional mysticism of Marty Willson-Piper.

In Search of the Miraculous is saturated with the panoramic color of autumn sunsets, the bracing, cutting cold of the brightest days of deep winter, and the comfort of a bonfire under the cover of a layered-gray November day. It’s a deep reservoir of the extraordinary, a crystalline lake of imagination at the top of a mountain of soul crushing phone notifications, deadlines, and takeout dinners. If that’s not a minor miracle, I don’t know what is. | Mike Rengel

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