Joyce Manor - Cody (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Joyce Manor

Cody (2016)


Joyce Manor’s fourth full length arrives with a new sense of confidence, one reiterated with a Kanye West reference in the first song. Cody, the newest addition to an almost perfect catalogue, benefits from self-imposed expectations and overall progress.

It’s hard to follow a breakthrough record, especially one such as Never Hungover Again. Released on Epitaph, the record transported them to “cool” punk band on many indie websites. Cody is both the next logical step as well as a huge leap forward. First of all, it runs twenty-five minutes, which, for albums of this brevity, is noticeable. “Last You Heard of Me” and “Stairs” see Joyce Manor allowing the songs to develop, a contrast to their usual spurts of emotion. Speaking of change and emotion: “Do You Really Want to Get Better.” A sparse duet with Phoebe Bridgers, the song finds Joyce Manor at their most beautiful and melodic, words not necessarily associated with the band before. And it works. It works the way Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired works—an aural experiment meant to keep them from being just another pop punk band.

Indie pro Rob Schnapf (Beck, Saves the Day, Elliot Smith) was brought in to prevent just that. Instead he gives the band an indie sheen without neglecting what makes them unique. Everything is cleaner, especially Johnson’s vocals. The same can be said for the musicianship, more specifically, the guitars. Schnapf forces Joyce Manor to stretch new muscles without it feeling like a cash grab. There is an extraordinary balance at work as he teaches songwriting tricks that work for their sound. Sure, it’s less aggressive and gritty, but that’s the price of growth.

The rest of Cody is what you want. “Angel In the Snow” may be the best song the band has ever written. “Make Me Dumb” is early 00’s pop punk filtered through late 90’s emo. “Over Before It Began” and “Reversing Machine” add a softer edge to the unmistakable Joyce Manor sound. Plus, Johnson’s storytelling has only gotten better over the years. A song like “Stairs” may be his most honest and benefits greatly from the time spent crafting it.

­Cody is, without a doubt, the band’s creative high point. It’s sure to catapult the band further than even Never Hungover Again. Joyce Manor embraces the evolution without harping on it. They’ve always been impressively consistent while refusing to settle for anything less than greatness and Cody is just another example of this.