We’re All Gonna F***ing Die
Going into their debut full-length, Sick Joy are in a position similar to where Dinosaur Pile-Up were for a good few years. Both operate in a nascent grunge space that really only keeps room for themselves, and both have had mixed successes when it comes to picking up the successes that would’ve come far easier a couple of decades ago. Dinosaur Pile-Up did get there with Celebrity Mansions a few years ago by dialling up the fun and colour alongside mountainous riffage, which is something that Sick Joy show flickers of trying to fast-track for themselves on here. We’re All Gonna F***ing Die (censored in the regular album typography, FYI) tries to mix in the flavours of something more contemporary, prominently in the lyrics in its sentiment of trying to find peace and fulfillment in the unceasing bleakness of modern life. Beyond that are the attempts to freshen up grunge’s admitted staleness; alive on the inside and ultimately opt for a really moody, evocative low simmer that’s particularly potent, while talking to the drugs and the blood & the bliss have this stiff, grunting swagger locked into some impressively charged and pounding guitars. Beyond that, Sick Joy are pretty comfortable with brushing against the fringes of innovation without any severe changes. This is an album that telegraphs its strongest moments to an unmissable degree, which isn’t ideal when Sick Joy are battling against the current to break through anyway. In terms of length and how much retention comes with that, We’re All Gonna F***ing Die ends up feeling a bit flabbier than preferred, given how the pacing and dynamism is still tied inextricably to what grunge normally offers. That similarly places an onus on frontman Mikl, who’ll lean into the traditional drawl that doesn’t allow for great, impactful showmanship, a sentiment piled on by some less-than-stellar vocal mixing. Otherwise, from a production side, there’s not a lot to fault when the bass and guitars are consistently thick and loud, even managing to avoid being bottlenecked by fuzz that would limit the appeal even further. The foundations are solid across the board, really just in need to tidying and tightening up in the vein of the prime standouts. That was true of their spiritual forbears in Dinosaur Pile-Up for the longest time, so there’s no need to get too unsure about Sick Joy’s future just yet.
For fans of: Dinosaur Pile-Up, Tigercub, Demob Happy
‘We’re All Gonna F***ing Die’ by Sick Joy is released on 8th July on SO Recordings.
World To Me
Pit Pony’s World To Me comes crashing out of the gate with a one-two of Tide Of Doubt and Black Tar, a pair of tracks that hold firm an ethos that this debut extols in spades—if you simply must do indie-rock in 2022, do it like this, where the attitude and personality matters. The geographical connection to Sam Fender might be pure happenstance, but Pit Pony carry themselves in a similar way, only substituting heartland rock for a natty punk snarl that’s primed to fill in any Estrons-shaped holes in its way. World To Me has some impressive brazenness for it, in Jackie Purver’s dry observations in her regional accent that come as products of a world deliberately designed to overwhelm, be that through anxieties, identity, relationships and all manner of other factors to keep Pit Pony’s edges hard. Most notably, though, are the moments of vulnerability coming from Purver’s experiences being a mother like on the title track; they aren’t plentiful but the impression they leave is significant, particularly in putting the aforementioned personality under a different light, but one that isn’t any less honest. It makes up for a sound that’s hardly battering the door down in terms seeing Pit Pony move forward, though for a newer band, they’re showing off some solid variety already. That’s mainly in the realms of indie-rock or post-punk (or the associated mid-sections between the two), best represented by the opening tracks and Wish You Would for more abrasive, noisy indie snarl, or the panting climb up Supermarket’s post-punk mountain in probably the best display of Pit Pony’s adventurousness by a comfortable degree. On all of its fronts, it makes for a very enjoyable album for what it’s offering, produced to accentuate the roughness and bring the quaking bass to the fore, fitting into the current indie-rock zeitgeist without forgoing some shabbier, more individualistic edges of its own. It’s certainly preferable than the umpteenth iteration of the hipster post-punk mannequins bathed in hype on birthright; at least Pit Pony will even slightly operate on their own terms, and bring in some real vigour and volatility while they’re at it. Definitely worth checking out, especially when they’ve already got ‘future festival darlings’ written all over them.
For fans of: Estrons, The Mysterines, Black Honey
‘World To Me’ by Pit Pony is released on 1st July on Clue Records.
If a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, then the artwork of Crozet’s Suburbia likely comprises the scripts of every John Hughes movie and associated piece of ‘80s Americana that its sound is basically in the bedrock of. Yep, clearly this pocket of nostalgia hasn’t been bled dry yet, but even if it had, Crozet give the impression that they’d remain unbothered. This is a very formulaic approximation of the synthpop sound, where every synth buzz and watery guitar shimmer has been heard countless times before, only now rebuilt into compositions that lack much tightness or wonder, and fall even flatter than their lack of independent personality would cause anyway. Five-minute runtimes are not conducive with success from a sound designed to be sharp and kinetic, something that’s apparent when Where We Belong and My Racing Heart really only click into place when their respective guitar and saxophone solos kick in. Other than those flourishes, Crozet feel as unimaginative as it comes, in the lockstep percussion and broad-as-a-barn-door synth waves on Summer Nights and Little Lies where the unremarkability is only held back by the inherent likability of the source. It’s the workaround that does the most heavy lifting on Suburbia, the crutch of nostalgia that Crozet hang their entire output on. It’s not even catchy in the way the best of this stuff is, due to an underwhelmingly anonymous vocal performance and a dearth of noteworthy hooks. Even from a lyrical standpoint, Crozet are trying to emulate the romanticised rush that colours practically everything about that era now, with an understanding of it that’s fairly basic yet passable, but nothing close to interesting. That’s the real kicker—Suburbia isn’t devoid of things to like; it’s just that what’s there isn’t likable for anything Crozet themselves are doing. Market this as some royalty-free compilation of ‘80s synthpop pastiches and homages and nothing changes, because when the creativity on show begins and ends at flagrant nostalgia-pandering, the worthwhile merit of that is obscured greatly.
For fans of: The 1975, MOBS, Gunship
‘Suburbia’ by Crozet is released on 1st July.
Words by Luke Nuttall