Not just a pretty package

The singles (so far) of Just Handshakes (We’re British)

(Editors’ note: From time to time we have to deal with our writers’ overzealousness with a band (or a specific band by a band). We decided to finally let our reviewer gets his stinky paws (garlic-ey, though) on these special singles. Q & M.)

A while ago (November), I had the luck of watching Just Handshakes (We’re British) at Bungalows and Bears twice. Got a couple of extremely well packaged singles from them and after a bit of procrastination, I get to review them.

Just Handshakes (We’re British) – Paper cranes (single).

A sweet little number about love, weddings and a celebrated summer. Sounding slightly distant (on purpose) but still poppy and fluffy enough, the song is like a hug from a dear old friend you haven’t seen for a long time.

The b-side (if it can be called that) is ‘Moving Picture’. If ‘Paper cranes’ is the sweet, ‘Moving picture’ would be the bitter, even if there isn’t really anything that bad in the lyrics (maybe a bit of longing, though, specially on the “walking in the park” section). Not as lively as ‘Paper cranes’, but it’s the perfect compliment.

Just Handshakes (We’re British) – Shipwrecks (single)

Doing a few extra miles on the road of longing and hope? ‘Shipwrecks’ deceitfully starts slow and sweet, in a beautiful mood that makes you think of grey skies in the Peak District. As if the clouds had dissipated by magic (or Lorelei’s chant), the song becomes jaunty, without leaving that feeling of longing.

And maybe a thesaurus would be a good investment, as ‘Go go go’ still goes and taps that emotion. Okay, let’s call it ‘pining’. Pining for a holiday that never came, pining for that job you never got or just pining for something you miss. Whatever emotion you want to imbue into the song, the ditty still does its job. “Every word is a sigh”…

Just HandshakesOperation Daybreak

The one bugbear that stopped me from compiling everything I had by JH(WB). There’s not much I can say about this song besides that it rules. The optimism it brings, the emotionally content (that bit about “b-sides, soundtracks in your life” – ah, makes me very happy) and the perfect flow of the song. It’s poppy enough to be an earworm but classy enough to get some street cred. It’ll be appearing on any mix cds I give to friends this year (please don’t sue me).

And that’s it, another gush piece of mine passing as a review. I really want to take another paragraph of your time to talk about the singles for ‘Shipwrecks’ and ‘Paper cranes’. All I have to say is that these two are possible the most beautifully crafted singles I had the pleasure to purchase. Evidence?

Shipwrecks

‘Shipwrecks’ comes tied with a bit of string and inside the cd single, there’s a nautical themed drawing and a guide to tie a know (hopefully you’ll be more able than me to tie it back).

Paper cranes

‘Paper cranes’ has a ribbon (gave it to a cat in School Road – don’t ask) and it includes instructions to do your own origami paper crane (and the paper to do it too!).

These little details make it a more complete experience, even if it’s singles, you feel you get more value for your quid and, heck, it gives the band an identity.

—Sam

About the author: He found out that his surnames in spanish mean “gush” and “hype”. Figures.

Links

Myspace, Facebook, Last.fm, Twitter.

You can listen to Just Handshakes (We’re British) on our own free mix cd. (sorry for the shameless plug).

Just Handshakes (We’re British) will play at The Harley on April 26. Mosey down and say hi to them!

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