Joshua - Choices (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Choices (2011)


Choices marks Joshua's return to the "scene," as it were. The band released a handful of EPs and albums across the late '90s and early 2000s, making waves thanks to tours with At the Drive-In and the Get Up Kids, a stint on Doghouse Records, and a J Robbins recording credit. Arguably, none of those releases really managed to cement the band any sort of firm legacy for their bygone emo/indie rock sound, though. Still, they return eight years after their last full-length and reconvene with Robbins for a solid album that, while doesn't blow away the bigger names of their predecessors, revives themselves well enough.

"Goodbye Grey Afternoon" is a muffled intro of sorts that sounds situated halfway between Gods Reflex and something on the Promise Ring's Wood/Water. The rest of the album leans more toward the former, with a bit of almost Smoking Popes-style, heavy sighing and their deliberate, energetic pacing. Such comparisons should give an accurate measure of the general tone on Choices, and while the band's earnest delivery never quite extends beyond mere pleasantries and prickly melodies bustling with just the right amount of gentle distortion and drive, it's certainly not bad. Mid-album track "Jet Black" could very well be named after a certain '90s classic, but it rides an easier-going, shorter and more nimble route; granted, in the context of this album it comes off as a bit more of a sneer.

"Mean What You Say" is a major standout, as there's a subtle tenseness one hopes the band will explore further if they keep this going for at least another album. It's also got dynamic production tricks, muttered spoken word, and a rocking, guitar-led, feedback-ridden, destructive finish, the likes of which you don't hear much on Choices. But the second half finishes promisingly enough; the biggest eyebrow-raiser is a certain pedal giving the band a big, dark sound to start "Oh My Dear". but it disappointingly fades out quick.

At times, Choices feels a little too complacent, but other times it strikes out with something fresh and bold. Overall, it doesn't feel like the brash comeback Joshua might have been capable of, but it's no red mark on their underappreciated catalog either.