On its 2011 self-titled full-length, Torrance, Calif.’s Joyce Manor released one of the most powerful debut albums in recent memory. Vocalist/guitarist Barry Johnson spat ire with his lyrics while simultaneously crafting songs that sounded like a hardcore band covering Weezer. The tight rhythm section, comprised of Matt Ebert and Kurt Walcher, propelled the band against Chase Knobbe’s soaring guitar leads, and, rightfully so, Joyce Manor quickly became the talk of the punk-rock world. Taking notice of this well-deserved hype, longstanding independent punk/ska label Asian Man Records nabbed up the band for its second album, Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired.
The 13-minute, nine-song affair certainly bears Joyce Manor’s signature, but it never sticks to the pop-punk blueprint laid out on its self-titled album. Tracks such as “Comfortable Clothes” and “If I Needed You There” wouldn’t have felt out of place on the band’s debut, but the cleaner production—mixed with Johnson’s improved singing ability—sees the band growing in different directions.
Embracing the lighter side of the punk world, Of All Things sees the quartet explore the depths of the recorded medium. Where the self-titled album was a 19-minute gut punch, the band’s sophomore effort is nuanced and varied without losing the magic that made the band so immediate just more than a year ago. “See How Tame I Can Be” is not only a prime example of the group’s sonic progression—as the processed drums are a notable change for the group—but the song’s title almost feels like a response to the fans that were hoping for more of the same from Joyce Manor.
Extrapolating upon this tamer side, Of All Things boasts two acoustic-style tracks: the soft and elegant “Drainage” and the lo-fi, borderline demo-esque “I’m Always Tired.” It’s hard to imagine these tracks ever fitting alongside such energetic numbers as “Constant Nothing” in the band’s live show, but the inclusion of these tracks prove that Joyce Manor is perhaps one of the most nuanced pop-punk acts currently running.
Although the short runtime is far from a hindrance—each song feels complete, even if it is only a minute long—the fact that the album includes a cover of The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” deprives fans of more original material from the band. The cover is well-done and certainly sounds like a Joyce Manor song, but it would have been nice to have heard another new song as opposed to an homage to a rather great pop song.
With increased hype and an increased public persona, Joyce Manor avoided the sophomore slump in the best way possible. Instead of giving fans more of the same—or running too far from the sound it mastered on its debut—the band found a way to meld these two concepts by putting quality songwriting above stylistic desires. Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired is by no means as good as Joyce Manor, but it doesn’t need to be. Perfection is rare on a band’s debut, but proving it was no fluke, well, that’s almost just as rare.
Joyce Manor – Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired tracklist:
- “These Kind of Ice Skates”
- “Comfortable Clothes”
- “See How Tame I Can Be”
- “Video Killed the Radio Star”
- “If I Needed You There”
- “Bride of Usher”
- “Violent Inside”
- “I’m Always Tired”