Joyce Manor are a very interesting band. That may seem like lazy reviewing, and it probably is, but after putting to e-paper my thoughts over 350 times (sad and lonely brag), saying something like, “Band X actually do something creative and memorable,” starts to take on quite a bit of weight. And that’s what I can’t help but think when singer Barry Johnson cuts through with his somehow apathetic yet forceful voice. It’s also what I think when an early 2000s-ish punk influenced pop-punk band records a searing and catchy cover of “Video Killed The Radio Star.” Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired is just completely enthralling.
I haven’t really heard anything like Joyce Manor. Which, once again, also sounds like a terrible bit of writing AND thinking. Also, me not hearing something is like, well, it’s not like anything because it doesn’t mean anything. I just can’t really put my finger on what kind of band Joyce Manor are, and that’s absolutely fine. The uptempo bass bumps of “Bride of Usher” sound like something from a surf rock record on 4Loko. Standout “See How Tame I Can Be” is static-drenched, electronic-tinged and slow-burning; it sounds like no other Joyce Manor song (on this or their more straightforward self-titled LP, at least). It’s just a simple bit of disaffected youthfulness set to the exact sound of a boring Saturday night. Then there’s “Violent Inside,” a nice little piece of guitar-pop that has equal parts catchiness and thoughtfulness. It also has the lines, “And you’ll go looking for an excuse / To feel sad / Sad or confused / When all you want is to let them all feel abuse.” All of these disparate parts are connected to some greater vision, somehow – one that’s only cohesiveness comes from its jumpy schizophrenia.
So maybe the only type of band Joyce Manor strive to be is one who doesn’t let subject matter or scene allegiance sway what their songs embody. In a little over 13 minutes and 9 songs, this young band continually think before they shoot. The irony (or whatever) here is that pop-punk (or whatever) is usually one of reaction. Yes, fine, Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired can fit into that category, at least in the sense that most bands write music before lyrics. However, a song like closer “I’m Always Tired,” which is essentially just an acoustic singalong produced to sound like it was recorded through a car stereo, might have fallen to the cutting room floor for a less visionary band. Here, it ends the album with the seemingly opposing forces of lonely lines like, “I lay awake now / I entertain my plans / To one day miraculously be talkative and likable,” and that sort of buddy-buddy gang vocal aesthetic punk music can’t help but facilitate.
Earlier I said Joyce Manor are interesting. Then I said I haven’t heard anything like them before. (Why I’m calling attention to my failure as a good writer just proves how bad of a writer I am, I suppose. Sorry, Joyce Manor.) I suppose they could also be called exciting, regardless of what you think that means in 2012. A freewheeling and, dare I say, experimental album like Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired puts me in a happy, but kind of indefinable mood. I always hate when people say that big things are coming for a band. Who ever knows, really? So I won’t say that, even if I really want to. I will just say that Joyce Manor have created the first album of 2012 that has reminded me of the reason I pretend to follow music so closely. Joyce Manor are exciting and interesting, yes, but really they are reaffirming.