The lasting influence that grunge has had on alternative music is undeniable. Known just as much for its personalities as it is for its distinct, garage-esque tones, the genre is in a state of revival, with artists channelling bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. 2018 looks poised to follow this trend, and one of its first offerings is Brigton-via-Newcastle trio Sick Joy, with their debut EP ‘Amateurs’.
The old adage of “never judge a book by its cover” applies here, with the EP’s title merely calling to attention the band’s young age. Musically, we’re dealing with something beyond its years, or, perhaps even before its time.
A distinctly familiar palm muting makes way for to a lo-fi guitar riff to introduce ‘Senses’, a song that can only be described as pure Nirvana-worship. In terms of the vocals, Mykl Barton screeches the first line with almost Patrick Kindlon levels of intensity, something mirrored in the second verse to ‘Karma and Ketamine’. The band really become their own by the end of ‘Senses’, however, with a huge outro supported by layered vocals in which Barton’s harsher vocals are offset by a softer female performance.
‘Smiling Shame’ continues the theme of a new flair on an old sound, as it adds some post-punk reverb and the deep bass of grunge to a Brit-rock chorus. There’s even space for a breakdown.
‘Amateurs’ certainly is an interesting release. On the one hand, this is grunge-revival at its very best: slick, modern production on the more gritty instrumentation of yesteryear. Looking at the other, however, it can sometimes feel like you’re just listening to the grunge bands of the 90s. While the mimicry is done respectfully and with that modern twist, the question lingers whether Sick Joy add enough to a sound that, in its purest form, died two decades ago.
An EP out of time, ‘Amateurs’ is a great introduction to a band who love their influencers. Now its up to Sick Joy to push the limits of the sound even further and strike with an even better follow-up.
‘Amateurs’ EP by Sick Joy is released on 23rd March on SaySomething Records.
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Words by Ben Mills (@BenMills28)