Joyce Manor – Joyce Manor Record Label: 6131 Records
Release Date: January 4, 2011
“Stretching out cheap cotton over your thick skull, I’m down here under the pavement so inept until I grab that pen beside you – jam it into your eye,” reads a line from “Orange Julius.” Those aren’t exactly the type of lyrics you’d expect to be crooned, and on Joyce Manor’s self-titled 6131 debut, the band does anything but that. In fact, Joyce Manor will easily end up as one of the most abrasive pop-punk albums of the year, a distinction locked in by the way the music flows from dissonant, clanging chords to sunny 90’s melodies and back (think something along the lines of A Wilhelm Scream meets Jawbreaker). It also helps that the vocals are often not so much sung as they’re rasped as if by a serial smoker - “manhandled” might be a more apt description.
But by some twisted sense of musicality that claws hard at – tortures, really – the boundaries of pop-punk, it all works, and amazingly well, too. Yes, Joyce Manor can be noisy and grating, but if you can dig beyond the cacophony (which is really a work of art in itself), you’ll find an underlying maturity to the songs. “Beach Community” is a rich example of this: It tiptoes the fine line between organized noise and contagious hooks like it was written by veterans, cementing itself effortlessly into your memory. See if you can avoid humming “I lost it all in a beach community, where it was lost was not all that clear to me” to yourself for the rest of the day. Even catchier are the closing lines, where it moans “A few miles down as the streets count backwards, I realize it’s true – everything reminds me of you.” And that’s mostly where the album’s genius lies. It’s got a unique, independent sound yet remains startlingly relatable on an intimate level.
Given all of that, the next best thing is the album’s consistency. The tracks may vary in memorability, but only marginally, leaving Joyce Manor a headstrong and complete collection. Tracks like “Famous Friend,” “Constant Nothing,” “Ashtray Petting Zoo,” and “Constant Headache” are instantly contagious, and the rest are almost guaranteed to follow with time. What’s more, get this: The album doesn’t even crack 20 minutes in length. That just makes it even more impressive – in less than 20 minutes, Joyce Manor have become the poster child for the young band that does everything right.