Reviewed by: Cory Stark
Joyce Manor is probably the best worst punk rock band that you’ve never heard of. I realize that this statement doesn’t make all that much sense, and I apologize, but I am unable to find a better way to describe the Californian quartet. Joyce Manor has a history of making simple music that sounds like it has low production value, was written in a basement by a group of deadbeats, and doesn’t even try to appeal to a mainstream audience. And here’s the thing: it’s fantastic. From their self-titled 2011 album to recently-released Cody, Joyce Manor consistently crafts a traditionally-influenced punk sound that is also unmistakably their own.
Their lyrical content is unapologetically pop-punk, mainly consisting of the woes of urban 20somethings. However, this isn’t to say that the band’s lyrics are cliché. The songs on Cody combine observation, confession, and simple metaphor to great effect. My personal favorite prose is found in the track “Stairs,” with the stanza “Be careful who you talk to/or the wonderful way you walk/you are like a magnet for evil/’cause there’s so much good inside you.”
The band made the switch to Epitaph Records before recording Cody, and it shows. This is the first Joyce Manor album that doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a garage. The record retains the band’s signature raw sound, but is sonically clearer and well-produced. Another big change is the fact that Cody is the first Joyce Manor album in which the majority of the songs aren’t under two minutes. “Stairs” is a whopping four minutes and two seconds long (a record for the band).
Accompanying the rise in production value is a more complex instrumental ebb and flow. This could be a result of having a cleaner sound, but in Cody, nicely executed harmonies and melodies are more prevalent than in previous JM records. As a result, the album is pleasing to listen to, and whenever I play it, I just feel happy. Somehow, this record seems to me like chicken soup for the punk-rocker’s soul. So give Cody a try. It’ll be 24 minutes of your life that you won’t regret.
FCC: 6, 10
RIYL: Title Fight, Modern Baseball, Seahaven
Favorite Tracks: 1, 6, 9, 10