Review Summary: Pop-punk with a little more Punk, but still missing some kind of unique element.
Joyce Manor have now been around for a few years, and have released three albums consisting of the most concise and consistent pop-punk music in the world today. Their musical style does not stray too far away from what you will hear on this album. Their second album “Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired”, is rather polarising due to the fact that it dared to bend slightly away from their roots that were planted on this album. The element that sets Joyce Manor apart from most pop-punk bands today is that they place much more emphasis on the punk aspect of the music as opposed to pop. With songs that struggle to reach past the two minute mark, Joyce Manor are content to jam out their riffs, exorcise any demons they made need to through their lyrics, and then depart as swiftly as they entered, and their music is all the better for it.
The most impactful of these songs occur towards the start of this album. ‘Orange Julius’ starts the album off with a blaze of fiery chords and shouted vocals. The song is brief, but showcases the band’s talent in writing catchy melodies that you would be dying to sing along to in public, were it not for the heart-wrenching lyrics poured over them. After another excellent song in ‘Call Out (Laundry)’, you get the fantastic double-whammy of ‘Beach Community’ and ‘Derailed’. The first tells a rather confusing story built on loneliness, longing, and constant reminders of what seems to be a previous lover. ‘Derailed’ echoes these sentiments, but in a much more cathartic way, with the shouted lyrics of “Oh my god, I think I’m in love” towards the climax at the end of the track. Both songs are built on simple chord structures, basic time signatures, but technicality is not the point here.
‘21st Dead Rats’ is probably the most driving song on the album, with explosive drums and fiery guitar chords throughout its short run-time. ‘Ashtray Petting Zoo’ contains fantastic dynamics between the blood-pumping riff in the intro compared to the palm-muted chords in the verses. Then the closer Constant Headache combines everything that has made the previous songs so enthralling and puts them all together in the longest track of the album (a mere 3 minutes). The guitar leads are memorable yet simple, the lyrics are specific yet relatable, and the music still maintains the punk fury and aggression that has made this album so enjoyable so far. This music was made to convey emotion, not to show technical ability. And in that sense, it succeeds fantastically.
Every song on this album is guaranteed to have a line in it that some teenager somewhere in the world will open their eyes widely at and connect with immediately. This is an album built off of simplicity. Simple chords, simple riffs, simple song structures. Unfortunately this is the records biggest downfall. No matter how well it succeeds in its simplicity, I am always left wanting more. Not simply more songs, but more interesting structures and instrumentation. A lack of experimentation and innovation are really the only setbacks here, but it is a real problem. Joyce Manor are fairly lucky that they seem to be one of the only bands making pop-punk music today that has a slight edge to it, so they needn’t do much to stand above the rest. Despite this criticism, when you can make music as simple as this and still convey so many emotions to your audience, then you deserve every accolade that you receive. With only 10 songs and 20 minutes, Joyce Manor manage to create a pop-punk album that can stand above its peers in the modern day, and will hopefully be remembered in the near future.