Joyce Manor - Joyce Manor (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Joyce Manor

Joyce Manor (2011)


In the past couple of years, we've seen more and more labels traditionally rooted in hardcore take calculated risks with new signings, and so far it seems to have paid off for everyone involved. End of a Year is thriving on Deathwish, Inc.; Lemuria's new album for Bridge Nine, Pebble, is garnering a ton of well–deserved buzz; Rise will be releasing new stuff from Transit and Man Overboard soon; and so forth. Labels are rightfully realizing that it's better to ape Jade Tree or Revelation than Facedown or Trustkill, and 6131 is the latest to knock it out of the park on an unconventional signing with Joyce Manor and their excellent self–titled debut.

While the band undoubtedly harbored a healthy SoCal influence on their Constant Headache demo, Joyce Manor pulls in those reins a bit in favor of a sound a bit more Bay Area–specifically, Jawbreaker. This isn't the blatant aping to which we've become so accustomed, though, as the band impressively incorporate their own touches to a well–worn sound, as readily apparent on the album's first two tracks, "Orange Julius" and "Call Out".

The band cites Weezer as an influence as well, and the sort of angsty, acerbic wit we heard and loved from Rivers Cuomo and company in the '90s is reincarnated here in rapid succession. "Beach Community", perhaps the album's best track, conveys hopelessness in a way rarely executed this well since Pinkerton. The song's mid–tempo foundation is heavy on melody, and some well–placed background vocals prefectly accentuate the hook toward the end of the track. Following it are "Derailed" and "Famous Friend", two similarly–leaning songs that both succeed on simple, effective guitar melodies. None of these three tracks eclipse the two–minute mark, and the brevity and directness works in their favor.

Two songs from the band's demo make the cut on Joyce Manor, and save an improved recording, "Leather Jacket" and "Constant Nothing" remain largely unchanged. Given that they were the most impressive tracks on Constant Headache, it's not entirely unexpected. "Nothing" is probably the most direct song here, with some quick guitar melodies and plenty of rapid drumming mostly bringing the noise.

Relatively speaking, Joyce Manor give themselves a bit of breathing room on the album's final two tracks. "Ashtray Petting Zoo" clocks in at a hefty 2:19 and essentially incorporates more of the same great melodies and desperate vocals heard in the previous eight songs, just in a manner that's a little less frantic and bit more fleshed out. Ditto for closer "Constant Headache", a three–minute opus with bouncy verses and heavy choruses, topped with some positively sweet two–pronged soloing to end the whole thing on an impressive note.

While these influences and approach are nothing new, the manner in which Joyce Manor is able to pull them off is astounding, especially given the band's youth. Plenty of groups have spent years trying to create an album as fully realized as Joyce Manor, and these kids nailed it on their first try. Unfair? You be the judge.