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Album Review

The first album by the Dutch pop quartet Johan didn't make a lot of noise outside the Netherlands, which is a shame because its mix of indie-guitar nervousness, power pop hooks, and retro-pop sophistication is absolutely terrific. Singer-guitarist Jacco de Greeuw sings the instantly catchy tunes in flawless unaccented English, in accordance with the grand Europop tradition, and lead guitarist Remco Krull fills the songs with just-so one-note solos and Wedding Present-style strummy riffs. The songs, all originals with the odd and unexpectedly perfect exception of a suitably psychedelic cover of Aphrodite's Child's "It's Five O'Clock," are uniformly solid, and the simple, straightforward production keeps things relatively unadorned, with the exception of a moody cello on "Swing" and layered, breathy overdubbed harmonies on the trippy "Life on Mars" (not the Bowie song). An unpretentious debut with few weaknesses.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Dutch pop band Johan released one swell self-titled album in 1997, marrying the jittery indie guitar strum of the Wedding Present to the cool, ironic retro-pop charms of the Cardigans and the manic hooks of the best Buzzcocks singles. Formed in Hoorn, Netherlands, by singer Jacco de Greeuw and drummer Wim Kwakman, the quartet was originally called Visions of Johanna after the Bob Dylan song. When the duo decided that name was a bit pretentious and vague, they shortened it to Johan in honor of the...
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Johan, Johan
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