Spanish Love Songs
No Joy


5.0
classic

Review

by Atari STAFF
August 26th, 2023 | 112 replies


Release Date: 08/25/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dancing at the end of the world

No Joy is likely the natural progression many wanted for Spanish Love Songs. Admittedly, I’m not part of that equation; I’m a sappy, balding bastard who’d be content if they pumped out their usual brand of self-deprecating belters until they reached MCU-level parody. In this regard, approaching No Joy feels… trickier. It’s their most experimental album to date, and while it has some mildly warped versions of what they’ve always done best, the extra breathing room here allows the songs to flourish in a new way. Rather than bleak anthems with no light at the end of the tunnel, various options are examined as the ground’s crumbling beneath your feet. In many ways, it’s the kind of Spanish Love Songs album I didn’t know I needed.

As much as Dylan Slocum can nail those cathartic, quote-ready hooks, it’s the serene and fuzzy synths on “Muted” that are currently floating in my mind; it’s the giddy guitar distortion in “Lifers.”; it’s the dance-ready shimmer of “Haunted.” I think it’s safe to say No Joy is incredibly nuanced, which isn’t really something that can be said about the band’s previous material. There’s just a lot more to unravel here than usual, and all the extra touches work well without diluting the band’s charm. The chaotic and compact synths in “Rapture Chaser” give me an odd, but profound sense I’m listening to something co-written by The Who – most particularly, along the lines of "Baba O’Riley.” Never thought I’d be making a comparison like this to Spanish Love Songs, but here we are. Digging beneath the surface, the song openly condemns people who are searching for a reason to be unhappy. Whoa!

With so much unfamiliar depth being explored on No Joy, the band’s typical self-deprecating nature now feels like a mere bonus to the main attraction. They’ve always had a knack for landing a punch to your emotional weak spots, but stopped short of letting us know exactly who they are. No Joy effectively breaks through Spanish Love Song’s remaining walls. The shaky-voiced Slocum reveals a side of himself that’s been hidden away until now. His tender, reflective whisper throughout “Exit Bags” will have you wondering why he doesn’t ditch his typically abrasive style more often. It’s certainly a welcome change of pace, only elevated by a sparse, raindrop guitar melody. These quieter spaces lead into the layered closing track, “Re-Emerging Signs of the Apocalypse.” It’s without a doubt the most potent storytelling moment of their career: painting a vivid picture of young Christians with the best intentions, and how it all went to hell. Gentle recollections soon morph into uncomfortable truths, with some massive guitar jolts that are absent from much of the album. This one gets my vote for the most epic, diverse track they’ve ever written – full of exciting tempo changes and a powerful sense all the bandmembers are in perfect sync with each other.

The subtle rays of optimism on No Joy provide a warm contrast to the band’s depressing lyricism, with conflicting emotions now in constant battle. And, as Spanish Love Songs put it to chilling effect between guitar twinkles on “Marvel”: silent explosions in our mind, could take us down at any time. It’s a simple but damning statement that should be relatable to anyone burning the candle at both ends. Yet, the very same song is also encouraging us to appreciate the beauty in the ugly – it’s all about our outlook. With a psychedelic touch, “Pendulum” recalls parents doing their best to give their kids a better life, even though it’s never that simple. The steady pacing makes for a convincing space to reflect over an acoustic guitar and sparse, muddled electric flare-ups. What seals the deal, though, is the vulnerable and unique spread of drumming throughout. It’s moments like this that make the band a special kind of therapy that always seems to make you feel better. Maybe the cure for feeling bleak really is bleak music. However, Spanish Love Songs have only continued to challenge the framework for their style of indulgently sad emo. During all my time dissecting No Joy over the last few weeks, one thing stands out as certain: there’s no other band out there that can write such hopeless lyrics while also managing to make me feel so alive. When I think about the path of my life, it’s hard not to get down in the dumps. What meaningful progress have I really made to better myself in recent years? Oddly though, as the magnetic slow-dance beat of “Haunted” calms my nerves for the countless time, I know everything’s going to turn out ok.



Recent reviews by this author
Tenhi ValkamaYellowcard Paper Walls
The Hold Steady The Price Of ProgressOozing Wound We Cater To Cowards
Fireworks Higher Lonely PowerFlogging Molly Anthem
user ratings (162)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
terriblekonrad (4.5)
No joy in my life when I’m right – the prose of hyperaffective modern life...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 26th 2023


27945 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this was way harder to write than it should have been... I'm getting old. had so many more words written down that I just axed lol. hopefully this turned out ok, though!



the number of quotable lines on this album is just ridiculous

EoinCofa
August 27th 2023


863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice write-up, love these guys

HBFS
August 27th 2023


1562 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

saw them live a couple of days ago, they were fucking great. the new songs were awesome live, haven't completely warmed up to the new record but it's still a great listen and i think i'll get more into it over time

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


18853 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm only 2 songs in but Dylan sounds flawless good lord

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


27945 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice, just wait until you get to the last 2 songs ;)



Pangea
August 27th 2023


10508 Comments


I do never feel joy when listening to spanish love songs

Sowing
Moderator
August 27th 2023


43943 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review.



The melodies on this aren't as immediately gripping as they were on Brave Faces, but I have a feeling they'll grow once the lyrics get their hooks in me. I haven't "read along" yet but I've heard a lot of awesome lines just casually listening so I think that'll be the key to unlocking this for me.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


60252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lyrics on this are by far the most engaging part despite the occasional eyeroller (And you're not sure why/That Catholic girl still lives inside you/You never shook your fear of hell pffffft). the overwrought vocal quavers, relentlessly vocal-centric songwriting, or gauntlet of midtempo mope are very much not it - i thought pop punk was meant to have hooks? not a "bad" record song-by-song but every inch a pity party slog.

nice review though

Pikazilla
August 27th 2023


29724 Comments


'the overwrought vocal quavers, relentlessly vocal-centric songwriting, or gauntlet of midtempo mope are very much not it'

welcome to zoomer pop punk, aka the worst iteration of punk ever

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


60252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

tbh this isn't so much zoomer pop punk as millennial pop punk dealing with the metric fuckton of peter pan syndrome baggage that was fobbed off on it by gen x pop punk

zoomers would never take this long to get through this many crippling_thoughts_of_death

Pikazilla
August 27th 2023


29724 Comments


don't underestimate zoomers

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


60252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i don't - imo your average zoomer has far less of your average millennial's inflated fear of their own mortality

Pikazilla
August 27th 2023


29724 Comments


their self-inflicted emotional baggage dulled their survival instincts

they already dead on the inside

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


60252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

growing up in the shadow of a generation with a burgeoning first world apocalypse fetish has its consequences

are you gonna listen to this or

Pikazilla
August 27th 2023


29724 Comments


no

second and third albums are 1's and I have no reason to believe this is any better

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


60252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

fwiw this is quite different from their last, from what i remember of it

Pikazilla
August 27th 2023


29724 Comments


is this better than dumb faces everyone

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


60252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

would probably have 3-3.5'd that album, so no

check out this breezy taiwanese pop album instead. first song is kinda flim pep, but the following 3 and some of the others are aces https://open.spotify.com/album/2IPPtaA2Fm3SiBS5UzWzkF?si=BDahHbZxQrWExctHfWS-7Q

Pikazilla
August 27th 2023


29724 Comments


taiwanese pop sounds more attractive lfg

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2023


27945 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Sowing, thanks man! I have a feeling it will grow on you. look forward to you inevitably posting some of your favorite lines. I'm a pretty big lyrics guy and think this is their best album in that regard



yooo Johnny, reading your comments makes me surprised you even have this at a 2.8. lmao. pretty sure you officially boosted this to bnm tho so I'll take it ;)



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy