Fire Note Says: When all the pieces lock into step, you’re in that ride through the wormhole that all the best shoegaze evokes.
Album Review: The Kinks knew it. The Mats knew it. You know Pavement knew it. Work smarter, not harder. Find your lane, play to your strengths. It’s widely taught among basic middle managers: Manage expectations, and cultivate areas of expertise.
No Joy aren’t stripped down like those bands, but they do end up making the best of a relatively small set of tricks. The band settles into what seems like a handful of different grooves playing at the same time. Jasamine White-Gluz coos and sulks around before darting into some vocal hooks. Then something magical happens. All the pieces lock into step with one another and bam: You’re in that ride through the wormhole that all the best shoegaze evokes. White heat. Oh, the colors. Am I behind a bookcase?
That likely undermines the amount of work that went into the overdubs and careful mixing producer Jorge Elbrecht was looking to foster. And the technical team deserves no small amount of praise in delivering a surprisingly sophisticated sounding indie rock record. There’s depth and space where there needs to be. A ton of controlled reverb creates a hall of mirrors.
All that sounds complicated, but the basic formula is repeated so often and with such offhanded acuity on More Faithful that it sounds like No Joy is essentially telling you what they’re going to tell you, telling you and then telling you what they told you. It bears repeating.
Is it 90s revivalist? Sure. In spots. There’s a good deal of crunch here. But it doesn’t feel dated. Tracks like Judith come on like the daydreams of that era — songs that maybe seemed inevitable but maybe not yet possible. The arrangements make just the right amount of space for the guitars to slice through what can be a very pummeling rhythm section. Then everyone scatters to look at what they have and haven’t got. And then they turn back into the center of the circle, lock in and the rock comes out. Even the wasted energy seems efficient.
Key Tracks: “Hollywood Teeth” / “Corpo Daemon” / “Judith”
Artists With Similar Fire: Cheatahs / Beaches / Slowdive
No Joy Website
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– Reviewed by Neil Barbour