Joyce Manor: Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired

2 Jul

Last year, a young British band called Yuck channeled the apathy of 1990s’ teenagers into a near-perfect indie rock record. This year, a young band called Joyce Manor from Torrance, California does something similar, translating the manic restlessness of the 2000s’ into one of the best punk records in recent times. The nine songs on Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired will fill you with an agitated, sustained urge to dance and/or start a band: all within the album’s thirteen (!) minutes of running time.

Similar to Japandroids’ Post-Nothing, the chaotic jumble on Of All Things works well without ever veering into dissonant hipster nonsense (for example, Micachu). The headiness of youth takes you over for thirteen minutes and nine seconds, in bite-sized songs of pure energy.

“These Kinds of Ice Skates” sets the tone for the album, with tight drums, apathetic vocals and an exceptional skill at writing clever lyrics (‘And I don’t think you’re confusing refusal to heal/ With all your selfishness singing, “I know how you feel,”’), all within a minute and a half. “Comfortable Clothes, is a terse tribute to the energetic, fuck-all freedom of youth, reminiscent of Bows + Arrows-era Walkmen. Tracks like “Violent Inside”, “Bride of Usher” and “I’m Always Tired” are heart-felt paeans to youth’s insecurities and melodrama. Despite the mild anguish, however, the band faces as always towards Sunset Boulevard, reminding us of their heritage: that, whatever may come, it’s always sunny in California. (Sorry.)

A classic bass-line drives along the laid-back “See How Tame I Can Be”, but the groovy song bubbles with an undercurrent of adolescent angst (‘And it’s too much to take and so I say to myself, “I never told you that I loved you because I don’t.”’). However, one soon gets the impression that the angst may actually be a joke: that the song’s title – and tameness – is actually a back-handed, precocious compliment to Joyce Manor’s hyperactivity. And the result, hipster aspirants, is irony done right.

Another great song on the album is the mellow “Drainage”, an unexpected, seventy-one-second simple love song, complete with gently-plucked acoustic guitar and faint cello. “If I Needed You There” is Panic! At the Disco with an irreverent buzz cut; against all odds, the minute-long sonic blast not only comes across as a legitimate song, but its chorus even manages to embed itself in your brain.

All through the album, Joyce Manor subtly showcase their many talents underneath the mess and clutter. The band takes pop music, and gives it back to us – trodden, deconstructed and reassembled – and yet somehow pays tribute to it. They are highly skilled editors and arrangers: there isn’t an out-of-place or unnecessary second on the album. And finally, the band is entirely audio-oriented in today’s world of VEVO and pop superstars: they demand – and get – your undivided, aural attention. All of this, and more, comes together on the best song on the album, a cover of 80s one-hit wonder band the Buggles’ signature track, “Video Killed the Radio Star”. We honestly think it’s one of the best covers of the often-covered song, ever.

There are a few criteria that all great songs possess: they grab your attention, pack in as much passion as possible, showcase musical skill, provide intelligent lyrics and have melodic sensibilities. Joyce Manor’s songs rarely cross the two-minute mark, but every single one of them hits all these criteria. The album really is a study in brevity and (there’s no other word for it) genius.

The genius extends to the album cover and title too. The neat capital letters on the cover, defiantly but aesthetically jumbled, give you a good taste of the music that’s inside. The album title, too, strikes us as particularly ingenious. Joyce Manor is a band with enormous talent and very little patience for bullshit. They are confident enough to cut down their album to less than 90 degrees on the clock. Naturally, mundane things in life tire them, and this album is a divine distillation of all that.

Verdict: Of all things Joyce Manor may soon grow tired, but of Joyce Manor you will not very soon grow tired. If you have thirteen minutes and nine seconds of time, listen!

– Neeharika

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2 Responses to “Joyce Manor: Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired”

  1. Nikwin July 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    How dare you call the Buggles a one-hit wonder band? If you listen to The Age of Plastic, Video Killed the Radio Star is quite possible the weakest track in what is not only one of the truly great pop albums not only of 1980s synthpop, but of all time. Not a single section of that album can be considered filler and I Love You (Miss Robot) and Johnny On The Monorail are undoubtedly masterpieces, with Clean, Clean, Astroboy and Elstree arguably the same. This is one of the very few albums where not even a single song can be considered merely good and not exceptional. The only other albums for which the same can be said that come to mind are Slint’s Spiderland, which on the whole is nowhere near as good an album, and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which is honestly rather better, but has the advantage of really being a single composition broken up into four parts.

    Having said that though, I do think that if you were going to modernise that song, you could not do it better then Joyce Manor just did. I cannot get the album just yet, but after that song I really must soon.

    – Nikhil

    • topfivemusic July 4, 2012 at 10:44 am #

      You’re forgetting Is This It by the Strokes in your list of filler-less albums. But anyway, that’s a lot of cool information about a band that is very easy to dismiss as a one-hit wonder. Neat!

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