Upon hearing the new Joyce Manor release Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, the first reaction from almost everyone will inevitably be, “That’s it? Where’s the rest of it?” Guaranteed. Every time. It was for me. The “album” clocks in at just a tick over 13 minutes which is almost 6 minutes shorter than the band’s self-titled debut album from last year. That being said, in those 13 minutes, Joyce Manor manages to accomplish more than most bands can in twice that time.
Joyce Manor is confounding to me and I find what they do a little hard to wrap my head around. Let me explain. I can easily picture these guys just waking up at 11AM, heading out to the garage, plugging their instruments in and capturing everything you hear on the album in one take. Yes, Joyce Manor is a band of musical contradictions. These songs are raw, loose and unrefined but not sloppy. If anything, the songs are all exactingly calculated and devoid of filler. If it isn’t absolutely essential to these songs, you won’t hear it. Listening to Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired is a truly refreshing thing in that regard.
The sounds that Joyce Manor makes still bridge the gap between garagey punk, angular emo pop and arty indie rock but, musically, there’s a bit more variety on Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired than there was on Joyce Manor. There’s what sounds like a drum machine on “See How Tame I Can Be,” two songs that are basically just guitar and vocals (“Drainage” and “I’m Always Tired”) and right smack in the middle of the album, an amazing cover of “Video Killed The Radio Star.” What does all of this add up to? I don’t know. I’m not really sure why or what Joyce Manor is actually going for.
Also immediately apparent is that Joyce Manor has smoothed down some of their rough edges. They’ve made everything slightly less abrasive and made the melodies more prominent. I’m not saying the band’s sound has changed at all, it hasn’t. Joyce Manor still sounds incredibly and perfectly imperfect. It’s an oddly organic and unpolished sound that almost comes across as lazy but is truly anything but.
I think that with Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, Joyce Manor may have just released one of the most thought provoking and truly “punk” albums we will hear all year. The band challenges preconceived notions of what makes an album while simultaneously making their songs catchier and more accessible. Every single song is basically just one verse, one chorus and bit extra (fragments really) and there’s the unexpected cover of that 80′s song that (at least on the surface) seems like such an odd choice in the middle of the record. I don’t get it but I love it. I love the way that everything that seemingly shouldn’t work comes together perfectly.
It probably says more about me than about Joyce Manor that I need stop thinking about Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired and just listen and enjoy the record. It’s out now on Asian Man Records and is on constant repeat on my stereo.