Rochester indie quintet Joywave has been blog bothering since their incarnation in 2010 yet luckily for them they had some real substance behind the noise and promotion. The group was rewarded with a couple of respectable chart positions on the US Alt and Rock chart back in April for the debut How Do You Feel Now? The album is released in the UK today and we have given it a comprehensive listen in order to make some sense of the fragmented world of Joywave.
It begins with the immediate single ‘Somebody New’ which is awash with crunching guitar and overexposed drum beats paired with a vocal that sits somewhere between Hot Chip and White Lies and comes across as disinterested and anthemic all at once. There is something unpredictably mischievous about Joywave as they are very hard to predict, you feel as though you have pinned them to a style or genre before they back flip out of the stratosphere in an explosion of sirens and bass lines.
The far more danceable ‘Carry Me’ paints an entirely different picture of the group as a forgettable Friendly Fires yet its infectious chorus is likely to implant itself within your skull and set up base for the majority of your living existence. The collaboration with Kopps is far more dynamic and enticing with a fragile chorus and living melody that is constantly interrupted and deterred by synth. The ethereal vocal bridge and ingenious inclusion of synth tinged string section could see ‘Tongues’ become the group’s most powerful weapon within its growing arsenal.
The strange dialogue introduction to ‘Destruction’ aims for Röyskopp ingenuity but falls quite a while short and the song never really develops into anything other than the instrumental soundtrack to a car chase video game. ‘Parade’ is a nice venture into the world of grandeur and reaches on the 80 new wave stylings of Pet Shop Boys matched with the over dramatisation of contemporaries such as Hurts and Beck. The downtempo of ‘Feels Like a Lie’ juxtaposes this track to near extremity and feels more like a musical interlude than a fully fledged album track and is assured to be the moment the crowd disperses to the bar during the live tours.
Things ascend dramatically towards the album’s closure with ‘Travelling at the Speed of Light’ showing real courage from a new band to include a track lasting over seven minutes. Fortunately it is a traversing sonar-scape with gripping narrative and cinematic production values that never overstays its welcome. ‘Bad Dreams’ is one of my personal highlights as whilst most would argue the choral overlay is slightly unnecessary and bordering on the excessive it seems like the most fitting way to close a fittingly curious debut album. It nicely contrasts its own being with the icy cool hip hop bass line and builds to a disorientating, urgent crescendo. There are hugely positive points to this album and it remains one of the strongest indie-electronica debuts of the year yet with a little more fine tuning and the dismissal of filler tracks including ‘Now’ and ‘In Clover’ it could have been truly exceptional.