Release Date: Dec 7, 2010
Record label: Mexican Summer
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop, Shoegaze
If there’s one track that defines Montreal/L. A. -based shoegaze duo No Joy, it’s the gauzy, lovelorn elegy “Indigo Child.
No matter which way you look at it, there’s a palpable deficiency with noise bands of late. Implementing reverb-drenched guitar noise into practice sounds like a commendable exercise, but buying a set of delay pedals just isn’t enough. As bands keep pushing the limits of droning reverb to extraneous levels, these cacophonous streams of bliss quickly dissipate into insubstantial vapor.
In the here-today, ?gone-tomorrow age of internet buzz, it's easy to doubt the validity of a band that finds success after barely a year together. Even more so when it features so many trendy elements: two core members; heavily reverbed female vocals; loud, cacophonous guitars. Mixed by the Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner, the debut by Montreal's No Joy buries serenely ethereal vocals in piles of feedback and grime.
No Joy was a band founded on the concept of distance. Starting out as a collaboration spanning almost the entire length of North America (co-principal Jasmine White-Glutz briefly took up residence in Los Angeles, while Laura Lloyd remained in Montreal), the duo sent tracks back and forth, and Mexican Summer eventually picked them up after hearing two songs on their MySpace page. Before long, White-Glutz moved back home, the band was praised by the always-enthusiastic Bethany Cosentino (whose tweet referred to No Joy as, "the best band ever"), expanded to a quartet, and recorded their debut album, all in less than a year after forming.
If you were to judge No Joy by their recent touring buddies Best Coast, Wavves and Surfer Blood, then it’s unlikely you would be expecting anything more than a good time lo-fi jaunt. If you were to expect a pleasing debut album of woozy shoegaze written across the 2,462 mile distance between collaborators in Los Angeles (Jasmine White-Glutz) and Montreal (Laura Lloyd) then you have probably read their much disseminated bio. Worse than tainting Ghost Blonde with preconceptions however, would be to listen to it through a tinny pair of headphones on the bus, tube or whatever alternative artificially noisy form of transport you may favour.
In late 2010 a lot of bands were working to conjure up the ghosts of Kevin Shields and Miki Berenyi as the indie rock subculture of shoegaze only continued to gain more and more traction. Not many did it as well as Montreal’s No Joy. Fronted by the guitar/vocal duo of Laura Lloyd and Jasamine White, the band convincingly captures the gloriously fuzzy, effects-covered sound of the shoegaze era, but escapes being mere copycats by adding a wonderfully spooky atmosphere and by writing hooky, easy to swallow melodies.
It’s easy to read the words ‘LA’, ‘shoegaze’, ‘noise pop’, and ‘duo’ in close conjunction and feel a sense of hideous déjà vu-vertigo, as if hypnagogic pop has eaten itself and you’re stuck in an ’80s pastel hall of mirrors where everything repeats, getting paler and paler until all of Western culture is just one forget-me-not-blue screen of DEATH. But though the name of the band and album title – not to mention their bloody record label – could be a pitch-perfect spoof on retro blog pop, [a]No Joy[/a] do have some grit. As well as the miasma of Lush and MBV, the likes of [b]‘Heedless’[/b] have a skewed Breeders-ish growl that keeps lines satisfyingly defined amid the sun-bleached, soft-focus beauty.