I don’t know what to do with Joy. I can barely wrap my head around it. It’s a nonsensical tug of war between two artists that have their feet rooted firmly in chewing gum, the intrigue is strong. Joy feels like a lost record from the 60s made by two teens held up in a shack on psychedelics.
As confusing as Joy is, it’s a really fun record to listen to. The 15 songs are over in the space of about seven and the flash in the pan nature of the record does contain some great songs. It’s almost like Ty Segall and Tim Presley (White Fence) wanted to beat the record before it could sound like anything too straight forward.
It’s easy to revel in the eclectic nature of Joy and that’s part of the joy of the album. ‘Good Boy’ is a great messy jam between the two with brilliant vocal harmonies. What becomes clear quite early on on Joy is the strength of the two musical identities that made the record. It’s like two hosts occupying one body, they don’t appear in perfect balance of each other, instead they bleed in and out of each other, taking over in different places.
There’s an improvisational nature to the record, you get the impression the album was made by hitting the record button and just seeing what happens. Perhaps it’s more spontaneous than improvisational. It’s an album that sounds like it’s missing one key piece of context behind it. There seems to be something missing for it all to make sense to you, a secret that they’re refusing to give. You’ll end up down these rabbit holes if you pick Joy apart too much, it isn’t one to be prodded at.
The best thing to take away from Joy is just how much fun it seems to be. It does sound like two musicians playing around. However, when those musicians are Ty Segall and White Fence, the product is going to be good. It’s a joyous listen.
Despite the choppy nature of the tracks, most of which come in just under and around the two minute mark, the album does flow very well. It’s almost like one long evolving song cut into 15 pieces. It constantly references earlier songs on the album. ‘Good Boy’ sings: “We see oceans baby blue” nodding back to ‘Beginning’. Intentionally the album closes on ‘My Friend’ which also loops back to ‘Beginning’. The press release reads,“It never has to stop. LOOP that shit!”
When Joy is over and you’ve gotten used to the sketches and the jagged nature of the album, you might be left feeling a little disappointed. Songs like ‘Beginning’, ‘My Friend’ and ‘Grin Without Smile’ give you something new from the pair but doesn’t go any further forward. Much of Joy could comfortably sit in areas of the duo’s back catalogue. It seems to want to veer in a similar direction to OCS’ Memory of a Cut Off Head but doesn’t stick to its guns enough.
There is plenty of fun to be had with Joy and hardcore fans won’t be disappointed. It’s a rough, scrappy album that feels incredibly off the cuff. Off the cuff, however, is something they both do very well. Joy is like being invited to listen to the duo jam, the prospect of which will divide fans as to whether that’s a good thing or not. For me, Joy is much of the same but remains very enjoyable. It lays out new ideas which aren’t explored as far as you’d want. However, if you’re in the mood for the fast and loose, Joy won’t be a bad way to go at all.