No Joy originally formed as a duo consisting of Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd, who both play guitar while Jasmine takes on singing duties. They expanded to four piece prior to releasing their debut album back in 2010, with drummer Garland Hastings and Michael Farsky. At least we think that’s the current line-up, trawling through old interviews has shown it’s not always easy to pin down who exactly No Joy are.
Forgive us if we tread carefully around labelling the music of No Joy, a recent press release suggested they’re rather angry about labels, as they put it, “nostalgic yet new, loud yet quiet; No Joy’s conflicting reputation cannot be classified because it’s in constant evolution.” Of course part of a music writers role is to try and put a band’s music into some sort of context, so with apologies to the band; No Joy deal in hazy expansive shoe-gaze guitars, cut through with some bruising grunge nods, rushes of heavy drums, and delightfully melodic, echo-drenched vocal melodies.
No Joy are from Montreal, Canada. Montreal is the biggest city in Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada in general, with around 1.6 million residents. The city takes its name from Mount Royal, a triple peaked hill located at the heart of the city. The city is famously bi-lingual with 56% of the population able to speak both English and French, and it is the second biggest primarily French speaking city in the world behind Paris. The city is rightly proud of its French connection, and it has been noted that local Francophone musical acts have often been able to sell out the sort of arena’s normally reserved for huge international acts. That is not of course to say that all Montreal bands have only found fame in their home city, the likes of Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and The Unicorns all receiving world-wide attention.
No Joy have been putting music into the world for the best part of six years, releasing their debut album, Ghost Blonde, back in 2010. Two further albums, 2013’s Wait To Pleasure and 2015’s More Faithful, appeared on the same label. The band, now signed to Topshelf Records, are currently releasing a series of EP’s, the first of which, Drool Sucker, came out earlier this month.
Any press release that screams, “it doesn’t matter if we’ve got girls in the band, or we sound like the past, we’re just doing what we do and being bloody great at it” is bound to get our attention. That band have described their series of EP’s as, ” a creative Fuck You: To everyone who told them they need to play quieter, needed to show their faces more onstage, who told them they should only include the girls in the press photos.” Now that’s some excellent talking the talk, thankfully the music also lives up to that promise, it’s loud, aggressive, tuneful and yes, difficult to pigeonhole, it also sounds great.
Opening track, A Thorn in Garlands Side, is a perfect example of the bands ability to blend both beauty and the beast. It starts with a distant beat and a ringing phone, as it is answered you’re instantly hit with an arsenal of blast-beast drums and jarring angular guitars, but they quickly resolve into something more tuneful, with a touch of Pavement, before the vocal’s enter with a chilling icy beauty, its charm latterly magnified by an easy backing harmony. It fades out on loose, ringing guitar chords and buzzing distortion. As a statement of where No Joy’s music is going next it’s a powerful declaration that they’re not planning on standing still anytime soon.
The rest of the EP plays out in similarly energetic fashion, XO (Adam’s Getting Married) adds a spiky grunge influence, ominous swells of distortion and a slow pounding drum beat, whilst closing track Theme Song is the missing middle ground between Public Service Broadcasting and At The Drive In, the echo drenched vocals almost fading into the kraut-rock rhythm. It’s only three tracks, but it’s a blast of joyous noise, cutting through the musical fabric, and marking out No Joy as a rather intriguing musical prospect.
Not much to criticise across Drool Sucker’s short run time, although if we’re being ultra condemnatory we’d like the vocals a little louder, and a few less of those slightly infuriating on repeat listen vocal soundbites, that might just be us though.
Drool Sucker EP is out now via Topshelf Records. No Joy play the 1234 Festival in London in September, click HERE for details of all upcoming No Joy shows.