The album – which features collaborations with award-winning actor Simon Pegg, and Barry Adamson (formerly of The Bad Seeds and seminal post-punk act Magazine) – is released via Brace Yourself Records & Pets Care Records, and is the follow-up to 2021’s Nocturnal Manoeuvres LP which crashed the top 75 of the main UK album chart.
“Limitations are key for us,” says drummer and vocalist John Newton. “I never view being a two-piece as a minus - it’s a key idiosyncratic element of what the project is.”
For the last decade, and now over four albums, the duo of Newton and Johnny Healey have constantly redefined and expanded the role, function and parameters of what a guitar and drum two-piece can be. No more so is this apparent than on their latest A Life Diagrammatic, a record that harnesses the punch and intensity of their blistering live shows with the band’s increasingly textural, cinematic and expressive sensibilities. “We knew the direction we wanted to go in after the last record,” Healey says of Nocturnal Manoeuvres. “We had started moving towards soundscapes rather than straight-up noise and four to the floor structure.”
The level of thought, ambition and scope is what makes JOHN such a captivating and genre-defying band, and A Life Diagrammatic such a rich and evocative listening experience. And the album artwork is perhaps a perfect metaphor for the band itself: a surface level glance may only reveal the basic function of an ostensible two-piece rock band but undertake a full service and you’ll discover a wealth of complexity, technicality, skill and function. Or quite simply, as Healey himself says, “we're not just a rock band. There's more to it than that.”
Seth Manchester (Big Brave, Battles, METZ) was brought in to mix the album, with Frank Arkwright (Mogwai, Arab Strap, Squarepusher, Autechre) mastering it at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. The aim being to merge the powerful live presence of the band whilst also honing in on some of the more varied dynamics at play. “We wanted to further explore the space and ambience of our instrumentation,” says Newton. “To offer an album that deliberately pushes and pulls in a multitude of directions throughout its duration.”
STAFF COMMENTSLaura says: Definitely one of my albums of the year this year. The mighty duo return with another ferocious blast of 80s hardcore infused noise. There's a barely restrained tension here like an elastic band stretched to the absolute limit.
1. At Peacehaven
2. Media Res
3. Côte D’Adur
4. A Submersible
5. A Whole House
6. Service Stationed
7. Construction Site/Summer_22
8. Trauma Mosaic
9. Riddley Scott Walker
10. The Common Cold