You know, the whole time I was sitting through this record, I thought, “They’d be a lot better with Steve Albini at the boards.” After all, they’re named after a Big Black song. Then I found out their previous album, Paradise, was, in fact, produced by Albini—and now, for some reason, they’ve decided to go with Silverchair’s producer. Well, then.
Little Joy is another musical paradox for me. This type of deliberately paced, spare and sparse, repetitive post-punk would be right up my alley… if it had been released in 1982. I mean, how can I, with a straight face, consider Public Image Ltd.‘s Second Edition one of the greatest albums of all time, then criticize My Disco’s songs for being overlong and repetitious? The thing is, PiL were pioneering a sound back then, which certainly remains infinitely influential on so many contemporary young bands. At that time, it was all new and vital; now it’s just being done to death.
In the case of My Disco, the glaring similarity is Liars, who, like PiL (an obvious influence), continue to evolve their sound while maintaining its original integrity. My Disco, or at least Little Joy, is simply too derivative. There are some very strong points hanging around, I won’t deny that, but in the whole scheme of things, this album is an average pleasantry that offers nothing new.
“Closer” opens the set and immediately delivers their modus operandi. They like to find one (or two) notes and stick with it (them), bandying rhythms about and delivering typical guitar jaggedness. “Young” takes the aforementioned rhythms, My Disco’s strongest quality, and goes all frantic on us, the drummer saving the nearly 9-minute track from mediocrity with his rhythmic inventions. “Turn” finds him heavy on the toms, and offers some refreshing change-ups, musically. But then we get “Sun Bear”, Little Joy‘s worst track, with the bassist (who has the easiest gig in the industry) doing his two-note back-and-forth and vocals startlingly plagiaristic in tone and style of Liars’ Angus Andrew on their Drum’s Not Dead album. The valiant drummer (who has a name, by the way: Rohan Rebeiro) tries to save the day, but is probably tired from carrying the weight of the band on his shoulders.
The following track, “Sunray”, is sheer excellence, though—the best thing on here. It exists in a world of actual melodies and coherent chords, where the guitar really speaks instead of being a simple, mechanical tool. Being the most successful composition is strange, since I’ve spent most of my time worshiping Rebeiro, who, on “Sunray”, is uncharacteristically subdued. Another paradox.
And it goes on, the remainder ranging ineloquently from “okay” to “good”, with the exception of “A Turreted Berg”, another standout in its Mission of Burma-style guitar riffing and engaging motorik drumming. If you’re not as melody-obsessed and anti-repetition as I am, Little Joy could really make your day. However, despite some high moments, the ostenati is too rampant to really pique my interest.
// Notes from the Road
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