Review Summary: Disregard the mustache.
The thing that stood out the most to me about watching Joywave live was how frantic frontman Daniel Armbruster seemed. He was constantly running his hands through the mop on his head and looked plain exasperated performing. There was a certain dissonance between the performer and the band's output, but he still drew a respectable energy out of the audience. In the same vein, Joywave’s debut album How Do You Feel Now?
throws out an interesting mix of sonic textures right from the start. After a brief call and response with a guitar, opener “Destruction” has a chorus that brings out some airy whistling next to Armbruster’s strained vocals, all atop a blaring electric riff. These things all vary in intensity, but come together nicely to form a good representation of what’s to come. From the chopped up vocal samples on “Tongues” to the chilled out, downtempo influences on “Traveling at the Speed of Light”, Joywave traverse across an indie-pop landscape leaving traces of their own behind.
Joywave seems to have a talent for blending tropes found in pop music effortlessly, then laying down a wide range of musical texture to create something different. There’s a lot of genre-hopping on How Do You Feel Now?
to the point that Joywave has yet to find a signature sound in my eyes. Most of this is done without any trouble although there is a mis-step in “In Clover”, a bit too repetitive to warrant more than one listen. His voice here is too high, and it becomes grating quickly. A tribal drum beat livens things up but again, it’s very repetitive. Elsewhere “Somebody New” manages to top the charts with a crunchy bass line and an eloquently simple chorus.
Without a focused sound, Joywave has some work to do. Armbruster himself has said he has appraisal for those “who do want they want to do and constantly reinvent themselves,” but to reinvent yourself you have to find a sound first. They’re on the right track - cuts like “Parade” have a unique infectiousness to them, with an aggressive playfulness to boot. Elsewhere the anthemic sounding “Now” provides a solid modern rock sound, drawing comparison to Hot Fuss era Killers. All the ingredients seem to be there, it’s just a matter of picking and choosing the right ones to refine a sound. Regardless, How Do You Feel Now?
hints at a new face among alternative music - one rocking thick rimmed glasses and a dirty sanchez.