Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr To hear them tell it, Welsh noise-pop group Joanna Gruesome expects their second album, Peanut Butter, with its “record number of hooks”, will make rivals sad. It’s a hilarious, not to mention ridiculous, sentiment that, when I first read it, made me envision UK bands largely unknown on this side of the pond staging their own musical version of The Warriors to determine who unleashed the most hooks. It’s an even more preposterous notion coming from a band that just released a 21-minute sprint that all too often is an indistinguishable blur between tracks. Joanna Gruesome’s press release need not have been more memorable than its album. Opening track “Last Year” features one of the year’s most defiant statements, as singer Alanna McArdle screaming “I will not! I will not! I will not!” in an exhilarating Riot Grrrl fit of mania, before the track takes a swift turn into the airy vocals/jangly guitars formula that populate most of the album’s remainder. The band describes this sound as a “marriage of radical politics with peanut butter spread.” What it reminds me of is a hard to separate glob taken from the bottom of a jar whose contents went missing after my vegetarian roommate saw fit to gorge in the middle of the night. Sadly, there was no cool press release brimming with snark and faux angst when he ate my peanut butter. Unpacking who Joanna Gruesome is or who the quintet aspires to be is a difficult task. Their name is a play on child-voiced harpist Joanna Newsom – a wink and nod to a small subset of music fans. Their songs’ brevity recalls hardcore while at times their girl/boy harmonies between McArdle and Owen Williams on songs like “I Don’t Wanna Relax” and “There is No Function Stacy” recall the early work of label mates The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, if that band was more aggressive. Their backstory is an ever-changing one. It once involved members meeting at anger management. This go-round, the story involves a wine tasting. I get it. Intrigue sells. So does fake fights with water guns and silly string (what I imagine “The Warriors” fight between the UK bands would involve). Peanut Butter does not linger in its sentiments. Half of the 10 songs here clock fewer than two minutes – they’re two brisk minutes, to be sure – and only one tops three minutes. Song titles paint good and bad brushstrokes before a chord is played (see: “Jamie (Luvver)” and “Jerome (Liar)” or seek to define disconnect (“Separate Bedrooms”). On the songs where she’s singing and not shouting, McArdle’s vocals recall a less sleep-deprived, spunkier kid-sister version of My Bloody Valentine’s Bilinda Butcher. Thing is, for a band with a gnarly pun name and talk of making rivals, I want to hear more punk and less dreaminess. I want to taste the blood in my mouth, to know I’ve been in a brawl. I want to hear an in-your-face album like the start of “Last Year” or the equally shout-tastic “Psykick Espionage” and “Honestly Do Yr Worst.” I want to pump my fist in joy and anger. I don’t want to laugh at a press release’s audacity and then spend the next 21 minutes wondering why the band that wrote it backed away from the fight.