I can’t remember the first time I heard No Joy. I know it was sometime in 2013 when they had just put out their excellent Wait To Pleasure. Something about that album was immediate and in-the-moment so I was compelled to have it. The guitar and vocal interplay between Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd has a very classic sound to it. It’s one of those magical musical things that seems as if they’ve been here all along, since the beginning of this thing we call “shoegaze”. They have this thing where there voices intermingle and become one singular sound. And their guitar playing is intricate and fluid. It’s not three-note power chords and fuzz pedals(though there’s plenty of fuzz happening.) Its’ slippery, wavy, and hard to pin down just what the hell they’re doing. The melodies that emerge from these guitar excursions are also some of the catchiest you’ll likely hear.
With their new album More Faithful, this Canadian quartet has cemented their place among the greats of shoegaze, noise, and dream pop. It’s dreamy, psychedelic, aggressive, and technical enough to keep those guitar dorks(like me) guessing and in awe.
“Remember Nothing” comes blaring out of the speakers like a post-punk fit of rage before the vocals come in and give the song a push into the ethereal. It sounds as if Lush is trapped in a guitar squall vacuum. Enough cannot be said for the rhythm section of Michael Farsky and Garland Hastings. Hastings drum attack is quick, masterful, and raw, while Farsky lays down some great low end, giving the track some solid footing allowing the White-Gluz/Lloyd guitar team to get as noisy as they like. “Everything New” comes rolling in like a sweet breeze. It’s an absolutely beautiful song that would make Elizabeth Fraser weep. Seriously, this is the song that should be blaring out of every car during those summer road trips. “Hollywood Teeth” is a perfect example of how No Joy have cultivated their own sound. Everything feels familiar here, yet it’s nothing you’ve ever heard. Driving, aggressive, yet light thanks to the harmonies in the vocals. At about the 1:20 mark it sounds like the song melts mid jam. Like things start to slow down unnaturally before the song kicks back in. This is something I want to hear live. “Moon in my Mouth” is one of those technical beauties. White-Gluz and Lloyd intertwine their voices dreamily as the guitars banter back and forth. Almost jazz-inflected, this track is as tricky as it is amazing.
No Joy front load this record like no other. Every single is gotten through in the first four songs. Most of the time that might not be a good thing, but with a band like No Joy we’re just getting started. “Burial in Twos” harkens back to some classic 4AD sounds, bringing Cocteau Twins’ Blue Bell Knoll to mind before the guitars and intricate drum beat come in and things get noisy and hazy. “Corpo Daemon” is a punk-inflected rocker with a great pop chorus. Some amazing drumming by Garland Hastings here. “Rude Films” is another musical twist. Subtle and catchy as hell. Another example of the versatility of this band. “I am an Eye Machine” rolls along like a cross between The Motels and Deerhunter, before things blow up a little over halfway through. “Judith” closes the album on a big and harmonious note.
It’s gotten to the point where No Joy have distinguished themselves from their peers. No one sounds like No Joy except for No Joy. White-Gluz, Lloyd, Hastings, and Farsky have found the perfect balance between guitar squall, sweet harmonies, and angular riffage. They have taken their influences and have meshed them perfectly with their own sound, so as to make comparing them with others a hard thing to do(though I tried a little.) More Faithful is an excellent album, and No Joy’s best yet.
8.5 out of 10