In the contemporary musical landscape, punk musicians are challenged to create something that conveys an impression of both simplicity and originality. Although this has always been the case, the struggle of modern day lies in the idea of how much sonic territory has already been explored. Black Metal has essentially broken the threshold of how fast and hard music can be with post-punk’s more elaborate compositional structures leaving little to be explored on the sheet music side of things. This turns the focus to production. Perfect Pussy, for instance, adds a certain primal element to their music with the use of a rather extreme vocal effect. For Ought, the source of aesthetic change comes from their instrumental choices, which range from ambient violin playing to reverb-drenched keyboard work. In the case of Montreal’s No Joy, a certain shoegazey sheen has been selected to dip the group’s punk stylings into. On the group’s new EP, Drool Sucker, three quick tracks bleed into one another with the band’s dense production enveloping the listener from beginning to end.
Beginning with distant drum work, opener “A Thorn in Garland’s Side” quickly begins with dizzying guitars entering the space followed by somewhat obstructed vocals. The atmosphere thrives on violence yet suggests a certain peace with comforting melodies and inviting vocal delivery coming between the more outgoing musical choices. “OK (Adam’s Getting Married)” comes next in the track-list, its quick tempo emerging from the unresolved ending of “A Thorn in Garland’s Side.” Here, the infectious vocal hook “I don’t need a friend/I don’t need a friend” becomes the central focus with various backing tracks adding to the wall of sound. The EP ends with the band at its most subtle, “Theme Song” coming together with a particularly cozy feeling. Perhaps this is the band’s most post-punk effort, a pressing guitar loop constantly pushing the track forward highlighted by long vocal melodies.
Despite delivering three minute tracks with no shortage of sing-able moments, No Joy manage to structure their songwriting in surprising ways throughout. On the EP’s central track, the first vocal line is the catchiest. Rather than returning after a short verse, this hook cedes the spotlight to a long-standing build-up before its return. The hook also does not stand as the song’s final words, the instrumental part roaring long after the final iteration of the chorus. The final track on the album nearly ignores verse and chorus structures all together, more acting as one big build up with different vocal melodies constantly being added to the picture as the track goes on. Instrumentally, the band impresses with a surprising amount of moving parts that are incorporated cohesively. The work’s opening track begins with a guitar riff in seven that smoothly transitions into a simple melody before taking a background, rhythm guitar role with the entrance of the vocals. As the song builds these riffs constantly move around the ear, sometimes coming left and right, sometimes both making for a lush instrumental feel.
As far as the band’s shoegaze aesthetic goes, the source seems to be in the instrumental and vocal layering, which create a constant glazed texture. No Joy builds a dense sonic landscape with a wide array of melodic devices standing atop a stagnate guitar, bass, and drum foundation. Vocal effects keep certain words a mystery with back-up vocals twisting and turning around the central focus. The band creates contrast by occasionally stripping their instrumental down to a bare minimum, vocals only being matched by a bass guitar.
The only major issue with the project lies in its length. Each song entertains, but at only ten minutes in total it’s hard to come away with something to grasp onto. Nonetheless, the EP is very well constructed and inspires further following of the band.
Although only three tracks this album left a decent impression on me. I expect to periodically return to this project and keep up with the band in the future. 6.5/10