Yr Poetry - No Tribes [EP] (Cover Artwork)

Yr Poetry

No Tribes [EP] (2014)


Yr Poetry is Alexei and Junior from Johnny Foreigner, and it sounds enough like their main band that I can easily imagine Jofo covering a couple of these tunes. But there are marked differences. It lacks the sing against/sing together dynamics of Alexei's vocal interaction with Kelly, and there are fewer of Alexei's busy, hammer-on/pull-off guitar lines. Some of my favorite Johnny Foreigner songs are so crowded they almost feel like two different tunes played simultaneously, and Yr Poetry is more cohesive.

The lyrics trade in the same subject matter Johnny Foreigner usually explores: how we connect and how fragile connection can be, and music as a means of communication and a source of community. "I hope that we're still friends," Alexei pleads on "Bae Ruthie". Closer "Still Got It" mixes exuberance and defeat like no one else this side of the Wrens. "I survived a pop-punk summer," Alexei asserts, over a killer hook, but at the end he trails off into "As long as I can write you stupid songs, I guess we're OK" — not coy, more like he's trying to persuade himself.

All this uncertainty is delivered with plenty of Alexei's staccato, wounded-animal yelps, multi-string bends, and song sections grinding up against each other like tectonic plates. With fewer layers in the way, I'm more aware of Junior's flourishes, fills and choked cymbal stops. The cumulative effect is a decidedly mid-’90s DC punk/indie vibe, almost as if this EP were scrappy, stripped-down covers of unreleased tracks from Dismemberment Plan, Jawbox or Slanted and Enchanted-era Pavement. In other words: awesome, and an instant lock for somewhere on my year's best list.