No Joy – Wait to Pleasure (Mexican Summer)
DL / LP
Plenty of ’90s shoegaze influences surface on the sophomore release from No Joy, but they prove only that the genre still has plenty of shimmering beauty to offer.
Looking back to the early nineties, away from the all-conquering grunge blasting its way through the supposed disaffection of the American youth and dominating the musical landscape for a few glorious years, running concurrently this side of the pond was the perhaps overlooked but nonetheless influential shoegazing scene.
You know who I’m talking about, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Chapterhouse etc. Bands driven by ecstasy into an insular sound of dreamy vocals drifting wistfully above huge walls of marvellously relentless noise. The scene may have faded with grunge for Britpop to masquerade as something meaningful in times of Cool Britannia, but it never really went away, and crucially neither did its influence.
No Joy sit firmly in the influenced by shoegaze camp. Their debut album drew heavily from My Bloody Valentine and Lush, and latterly from the likes of Giant Drag, the female vocals reminiscent of Bilinda Butcher and Emma Anderson, the droning guitar parts a snapshot of the whole shoegazing scene, and Wait To Pleasure has followed on in much the same guise.
They’ve taken the textured approach to recording their songs, layers of harmonies, noise, ringing chords and feedback with vocals often merely adding an additional tone to the dirge beneath rather than actually being a focal point of the music. And boy does it work.
As with many good nights out, the album begins with an E. A quick burst of feedback ushers in growling bassline, over which those softly-softly vocals dip just below the audible into the fabric of the music. As the song crescendos to its raw, climatic end, its impact is impossible to escape.
The current single Hare Tarot Lies is cleaner, brighter, less intense but far more soothing. There’s hints of Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins too, notably as the cleaner chords give way to the louder distortion, faint echoes of ‘Soma’ or ‘Mayonaise’ perhaps suggesting a nod to grunge too.
Elsewhere, the bassline and delayed guitar notes from Blue Neck Riviera hint heavily at the Cure’s A Forest, perhaps borrowing a little of the blueprint here and there.
The programmed beats of Lunar Phobia makes for a nice departure from the feistier Lizard Kids, which precedes it. Ignored Pets is more jagged, the rough edges allowed to remain, which run nicely in contrast to the more gentle closing moments of Pleasure – which is very latter day MBV – and Uhy Yuoi Yoi – which oddly enough isn’t too far removed from New You, the first new MBV track to surface before Shields and co finally managed to get around to releasing their new record.
No Joy’s debut sadly made little dent over here, which considering how good a record it is was something of a shame, and in today’s endlessly saturated market I imagine a similar fate awaits Wait To Pleasure, however as popularity is certainly no benchmark for quality it matters little. Both records are well worth checking out regardless of whether the established mass market music press can be bothered to.
If shoegazing never really went away for you either, here’s another reminder that the genre still has plenty of great music to offer. They may be called No Joy, but there’s plenty to be found in their records.