John Zealous navigate teenage anxiety with captivating charm on Emma Watson

Crooning from the suburbs of Perth, low-fi heroes John Zealous have rolled out their debut full-length album, a fan favourite in title and content, Emma Watson. It’s a collection of songs written by Josh Lenzo, and brought to life with the help of a few mates.

The band explore inward-facing, personal themes like love/hate relationships, regret, and teen angst, ringing true to their self-described ‘shoegaze’ approach. And yet, the LP’s Dead Boys-esque, stand-and-scream moments become a well-directed stare down the mic. In their own words: “Playfully self-aware… dance while screaming at the past you can’t change.

Arresting and introspective; John Zealous’ debut album Emma Watson speaks for the high school nostalgia we all pretend not to have.

There’s an echo of Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control stamping into track two, Song for Elaine, and yet a sense of control is something John Zealous seems to hold tightly. I can’t help but notice both songs reference an elusive ‘her’.

Inspired by the likes of Car Seat Headrest, spoken-word lyricism plays a large role here, and a genuine sense of poetry seems to speak for the high school nostalgia we all pretend not to have. With the occa delivery of “but now it’s just a distant memory, I bring up in conversation, at midnight, in dodgy carparks” the band signpost an adolescent mentality that maybe youth really is wasted on the young.

Just when you think you’ve got your head around the DIY scream-then-whisper set-up, enter the saxophone. It feels spontaneous and reckless, though with it, comes a real sense of catharsis. Across Emma Watson‘s nine-track duration, John Zealous craft something that feels arresting and raw; an honest, albeit druggy, reflection of all your teenage fantasies and anxieties.

Although they’ve only been performing together since last November, I predict their on-stage presence to as commanding as their debut album’s. Catch them live at the UWA Tavern on Friday, April 12th. More info here.

Listen to Emma Watson above.