Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something return with new album Miffed following their 2019 debut album Oh really? What’s That Then? Miffed is an introspective journey through psychedelic glam-rock nightmares, woozy flows of self-discovery and beguiling lyrics delivered with subtlety and intensity, the album covers themes of secret worlds, hidden agendas, apathy & anxiety, with Jemma’s sonorous voice telling a story of unravelling completely and tying yourself back up again. Emerging like joyous sci-fi warriors, the songs either overtly or indirectly demonstrate solidarity with anyone that’s ever identified feeling off kilter with the rest of the universe and needed an equally wonky sound-track to back it.
Alongside Samuel Nicholson (bass) and Jason Ribeiro (drums), the trio emerge as your astral guides in this strange country, illuminating a path, but in reality they’re as lost as the listener. In this limbo, thoughts tumble on top of each other through twisted rhythmic guitar, bass and drum lines that interchange and play with each other in a frenzied cosmic dance described as “Led Zeppelin fronted by Madonna”.
“Like every band we were deeply affected by lockdown” explains Jemma. “I was particularly devastated as my social network relied entirely on being in bands or watching them. As someone neurodiverse (I’m Autistic and have ADHD) I find staying in touch without what i perceive to be a good reason quite hard, my good reason usually is that I am being useful in someones band, I became incredibly isolated but I also realised that if I focused too heavily on the absence of music the grief might be too much to bear. Instead I compartmentalised, I switched off music in my head, I logicked that potentially we may never have live music again, I didn’t stop writing, recording and playing at home but I had to face the reality that everything else might be over.”
The album’s lead single “Easy Peeler” is an infectious, nihilistic bop for anyone feeling disenfranchised. Jemma explains, “Born out of a warm up jam in a rehearsal, it’s a thing of pure unadulterated fury at brexiteers, the patriarchy, antivaxers, terfs and royalists, with exasperation directed at late night online social media discourse dressed up as debate that is actually just pessimistic, shallow, selfish bigotry. Easy Peelers are a type of fruit specially bred for the skin to be easy to remove. I like the symmetry of the name with the thin skinned critics of so called snow flake culture. The vitriolic delivery a testament to the unimaginable futility you can feel as just one small person in an ocean of vacuous impossibility.”
“The lyrics were written by walking around and singing out loud to the instrumental track during lockdown. I’d moved from South east London, my home for over a decade, to the west London suburbs to be near to my girlfriend at the time. Being visibly queer and autistic in an incredibly homogeneous upper middle class environment felt totally unnatural. There is a limit to how many tuts and suspicious looks up and down one person can tolerate before either shutting down or lashing back. I’m not a violent person, my power lies within my words so belting out a volley of anarchic affirmations felt empowering. I liked the idea of being antagonistic, the antithesis of the boomer core values I felt I might drown in.”
Miffed was recorded at Lightship 95 in London by Dave Holmes, who they worked with previously on their Bella Union band, Landshapes. “His penchant for understanding complex, heavy, detailed guitar sounds and impeccable mixing skills, love of guitar pedals and general geeky wizardry made him a no brainer to work with. And who wouldn’t want to work on a historic, bright red ship with a giant lighthouse attached? The most notable deliberate choice for the album was to record everything live. We made the main body of the whole album in 3 days including all the main vocals. The intention was to capture the vitality and rawness of our live performance and the exuberance and joy we had all been feeling jamming and making new sounds and songs every time we got together to rehearse.”
“The front cover is an image I found online as part of a listing for a house” explains Jemma. “One of my more depressing millennial activities is looking online at houses I will never be able to afford to buy. I can’t even remember where in the country this house was, it just seemed so middle class. Chairs feeling like haunted characters gazing forever at their own faded reflection. I wanted to capture the sort of temporary sense of opulence felt as a child in the 80s; Ferrero Rocher at Christmas or Spandau Ballet on a yacht in a music video.”
The title is inspired to some extent by my maternal grandmother, who when absolutely livid at some perceived gross injustice would somehow compress all this rage into the phrase ‘I’m a bit miffed to be honest with you’ which I now find hilarious. The enormity of the under-statement feels so suburban and English, its passive aggressive and dishonest, fails to acknowledge the depth or scope of someone’s feelings. For me it captures this middle English apathy and powerlessness that has happened with the pandemic, with lockdown, Brexit, all these catastrophic events that we are powerless and inured to.”