After a handful of well received singles and two cult smash full-lengths, it felt like Joyce Manor joined the ‘A’ league with 2014’s outstanding ‘Never Hungover Again’. Now, figuratively speaking, there’s money in the bank, allowing Joyce Manor to push themselves and their musical boundaries.
’Cody’ very much represents this flexing of musical muscle, and while it may lack the punch of ‘Never Hungover Again’ it also includes some of the quartet’s most rounded and infectiously spiky pop songs to date. Credit must go to producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Saves The Day, Kevin Devine) for softening some of Joyce Manor’s more caustic edges, and his unbelievable ear for texture and pacing is put to good use throughout, ensuring Joyce Manor sound better than ever. Take the glorious ‘Angel in the Snow’, for example; a wonderful indie-pop song that’s lusher than anything the band has produced previously.
And it’s this expansion of sounds and broadening of horizons that is most prevalent on ‘Cody’. ‘Do You Really Want To Get Better’ might by the most sparse song the group has ever written. Previously it could have sounded scratchy and raw, yet here it sounds so achingly beautiful it could make you dissolve into an emotional puddle.
For those yearning for the more frenzied days of ‘Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired’ or Joyce Manor’s self-titled debut, have no fear though. ‘Cody’ still possesses some buzzsaw sharp pop songs. The opening salvo of ‘Fake I.D.’ and ‘Eighteen’ will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear, while the standout ‘Stairs’, an epic (for Joyce Manor at least) four-minutes, shows that when they take their classic sound long-form they can still deliver a killer hit.
It all means ‘Cody’ is yet another triumph for Joyce Manor. It might lack the raw serrated edges of ‘Never Hungover Again’, but is no worse for it. Instead, it’s to Joyce Manor’s immense credit that they’ve developed from one of the most entertaining, if one-dimensional, indie-punk bands into a band that transcends such genre tags and limitations. Yet what’s most remarkable is that they’ve achieved this without compromise. ‘Cody’ still sounds like a traditional Joyce Manor record – just better written, better performed and better produced.
’Cody’ by Joyce Manor is released on 7th October on Epitaph Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)