I’m going to try something a little different for this year’s year-end recaps. I will still make a list, because all blogs that have ever written about pop culture are bound by natural law to make a list, but I want to spend some time getting a little more in-depth in to what I’ve liked, why I’ve liked it, and why you might like it too. It’ll all be tagged as “Best of 2014,” so click that if you want to read it.
The other day, I talked about a movie about a train. Today, I’m going to talk about a punk band. Someday, I’m going to write about a concert you probably didn’t go to.
I am not certain that liking a band because of the limits they put upon themselves is valid. That said, I like Joyce Manor, specifically its 2014 album Never Hungover Again, because of it’s speed.
The first punk bands formed in the wake of bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, groups dominating the rock world and releasing ambitious, bloated works. The Ramones and the like rejected the notions of production and complication. They focused on sharpening their impact and letting everything else fall away.
For a time, many punk bands carried this economic mantel. In time, punk changed. It expanded its walls. It allowed more room for creativity and expansion. Bands released excellent works that operated in direct opposition of one of its founding ideals. Bands grew from three members to five, from five members to seven. It was all fine. And yet.
Joyce Manor has four members. Its songs are short. This does not make them a good band. Chipping away everything but the basics only works if the basics are sound. The band writes tight songs, engineered for maximum impact in as little time as possible. The teenagers of today will pull the language of their future regrettable tattoos from a lyric sheet that can fit into three pages of a word document. Never Hungover Again will be a document that punks revisit well into the future. It will be a pamphlet, and it will mean more than most of the genre’s books.
Joyce Manor arrives quickly, makes its point, and leaves. If it were a public speaker, it would be the most effective kind. Time is at a premium. Never Hungover Again is a high-value experience.