No Joy decided to experiment a little with its new album, More Faithful. The band split recording into two sessions: half the album at Brooklyn studio Gary’s Electric, and, surprisingly, the other half at an old farmhouse in Costa Rica. No Joy worked with producer Jorge Elbrecht to create More Faithful and make it the band’s most distinguishable and adventurous album to date. No Joy has officially departed from its usual style of lucid, fuzzy pop, and in this case, it’s a good thing.
No Joy slightly abandons its dreamy, amorphous sound for keyboard-heavy (including definite R&B-influenced) beats in “Burial in Twos.” Every component of the song is defined, verse-chorus-verse, and the vocals, while still hard to dissect, are quite melodic given No Joy’s musical history of muffled singing.
It’s too bad No Joy didn’t figure out that its singers are the strongest and prettiest aspects of its music until this album.
The stunning vocal tracks, performed by singer/guitarist Jasamine White-Gluz and guitarist Laura Lloyd, make More Faithful the, well, dreamiest dream-pop that could ever exist. Previous No Joy records bury vocals into oblivion, never giving listeners the chance to clearly hear Gluz’s feathery, light voice. It contrasts, but doesn’t clash, with heavily distorted guitars that are absolutely relentless. Sometimes singers’ voices just fit together for whatever (probably scientific) reason. Gluz and Lloyd are lucky their voices complement one another to create an enormous burst of ethereal energy, a glow in the midst of chaos.
Hardcore No Joy fans will be happy the heavy fuzz No Joy loves to use hasn’t gone away completely. “Corpo Dæmon” races to the very end in just under two and a half minutes, and heavy distortion is its prominent feature. Drummer Garland Hastings’ contribution downright makes the song. Every note he plays perfectly fits in with the washed out guitars and blemished vocals. His drumming is the clearest element in the song. Technicalities aside, the track as a whole is one of the album’s strongest. It’s definitely a “typical” No Joy song, quick and lurid, but it keeps listeners interested even in the middle of the album where enthusiasm can sometimes dwindle.
More Faithful is No Joy’s most accessible album. Let’s be real: shoegaze is not for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s certainly a defined genre, and extremely talented musicians with a knack for keeping things relatively formless, such as No Joy, wholly represent it. Perhaps more of the same seemed boring for No Joy; the band has been playing crunchy, low-fi music since 2010, after all. Taking a break and trying something new can musically, and personally, either hurt or help a band. It seemed to do the latter for No Joy.
Maybe the retreat to the Costa Rican farmhouse helped No Joy gain some clarity. A change of scenery is sometimes all we need to gain a new perspective on what we’re doing and how we do it. If No Joy is like any other band, it’s going to want to change things up at one point or another in its career.
No Joy – More Faithful tracklist:
- “Remember Nothing”
- “Everything New”
- “Hollywood Teeth”
- “Moon in my Mouth”
- “Burial in Twos”
- “Corpo Dæmon”
- “Chalk Snake”
- “Rude Films”
- “I am an Eye Machine”