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Joyce Manor - 40 oz. to Fresno Music Album Reviews

Joyce Manor - 40 oz. to Fresno Music Album Reviews
Though less consciously ambitious than their previous two albums, the California power pop band’s latest is a pure refinement of their sound and feel.

Surviving as a punk band is tough. Even the most beloved bands are subject to a special kind of mundane burnout where, quite understandably, they figure getting together to make an album and tour just isn’t worth navigating the time off from work. After 14 years and six albums together, Joyce Manor have so far escaped that fate. On “You’re Not Famous Anymore,” a track from their new record 40 oz. to Fresno, frontman Barry Johnson seems to address someone who didn’t. “You’re working in a grocery store,” frontman Barry Johnson points out. “No meet and greet, no UK tour, now you’re not famous anymore.”

There may be a hint of gloating there. Joyce Manor are decidedly still indie famous, as far as indie punk bands go; they recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their debut album with two nights at the sizable Hollywood Palladium. They’ve achieved a cult longevity unlike some of the bands they once shared bills with. The reward is lower stakes, releasing their music to a plateau of long-time fans rather than expecting too many new ones. As a result, 40 oz. to Fresno is less consciously ambitious than the band’s last two albums. While 2016’s Cody embraced glossy ’90s alt-rock, and 2018’s Million Dollars To Kill Me let them jump ship into ’80s power-pop, 40 oz. to Fresno’s readiest comparison point is simply Joyce Manor itself. They’ve figured out the outer limits of Joyce Manor; now it’s about perfecting what’s within them.

That gives them the freedom to focus less on the big picture and zero in on the songs. “Dance With Me” and “Don’t Try” feature two of their catchiest choruses ever; the former jangly and Pixies-esque, and the latter a driving outburst of pop-punk. Meanwhile, lead single “Gotta Let It Go” tries something they haven’t really done before: sounding absolutely enormous. Its weighty production works beautifully to prop up the fired-up-but-nowhere-to-go vibe of the song. The album is over before you really know it’s begun, and it isn’t cohesive or groundbreaking enough for that to feel as satisfying as on previous albums. But the songs are studiously, almost mathematically propellant, creating a rush of exhilaration that feels equally earned.

Johnson’s witty and sardonic songwriting is mostly the same as ever. He plays the role of someone who would be romantic if he wasn’t so misanthropic—or the other way around. The narrator is always reaching for connection, then waving it away like a stubborn kid. “It’s not a confession if I was just messing,” he asserts on “Gotta Let It Go.” On “NBTSA,” he wants to confess a secret, then a line later spits: “I don’t know why I want you to know.” Many of the experiences he narrates are lit with the glow of reckless youth—falling in love in a park, fucking in the back seat of a car. But there’s also a new streak to the subject matter that betrays the fact Johnson is in his mid-30s now. There’s the disillusionment of “You’re Not Famous Anymore,” while a similar world-weariness shows up in “Gotta Let It Go”—the thing that must be let go of alternates between a relationship and the narrator’s own youth.

But there’s a little bit of lopsided optimism in “Dance With Me.” Johnson addresses the rag-tag crowd that Joyce Manor make music for—“You’ve never been an addict, you’ve just got a little habit that you couldn’t cope without”—culminating in a kind of fuck-it theme song. Towards the end of it, he asks: “Could it be that the room’s empty and I’m just tearing out my heart for the sound guy?” The possibility of fading into obscurity is on his mind. But 40 oz. to Fresno doesn’t seem to be an attempt to counteract that, as much as to get the most out of Joyce Manor as a vehicle while people are still listening. This is the Joyce Manor album for Joyce Manor fans—a loving, uncynical refinement of the band’s best.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Joyce Manor - 40 oz. to Fresno Music Album Reviews Joyce Manor - 40 oz. to Fresno Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, June 16, 2022 Rating: 5

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