Joyce Manor - Songs From Northern Torrance
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One of the big positives during lockdown has been the new music and surprise releases. Joyce Manor have the perfect ten-track compilation to offer a bit of escapism just in time for the weekend.

Songs From Northern Torrance is a collection of early material from the band’s humble beginnings as an acoustic two-piece (there’s now four of them). Originally recorded between 2008-2010, many of the tracks have become fan favourites over the years, and this collection will take you back to a simpler time.

The first thing listeners will notice is this release has a true DIY feel, and if you blink you will miss the transition from track to track. Once the initial shock of lo-fi recording wears off, this is a release full of short bursts of absolute joy.

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The opener ‘Housewarming Party’ sets the release off nicely with the unmistakable sounds of a DIY two-piece band; despite being a combination of acoustic guitar and drums, there is a full sound created with the fuzz of distortion and recording.

‘Danke Schoen’ shows the band at their most stripped back, with the drums dominating and driving the moments between vocals full of subtle sweetness. It’s easy to compare two-piece bands with other two-piece bands but this drum lead dynamic draws an instant comparison to No Age who, despite relying on effects pedals far more than Joyce Manor, create that same warming feeling with the surf-styled drums.

Within the quieter moments, there is a sense of warmth created amongst the self-deprecating lyrics that require a delicate touch. These delicate touches come in the form of intricate guitar lines, which on ‘DFHP?’ and ‘Who Gave You a Baby’ combine with the infectious vocals of Best Coast or Japandroids.

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This is a release that travels in emotion as much as it travels musically, with the early tracks sharing The Front Bottoms’ dark humour and the later tracks pushing further towards anger with the occasional bitter tones of Captain We’re Sinking.

These sunshine themes run throughout the entire collection; at times these are pushed in a much heavier direction. The frantic pace and knife-edge switch the vocals take with a growl in ‘Done Right Discount Flooring’ have the infectious style of Jeff Rosenstock. The gentle opening to ‘Five Beer Plan’ creates a surprise as the song concludes with a guttural final verse before exploding into a guitar solo Pkew, Pkew, Pkew would be proud of.

With every song, there are new elements added which will make you fall in love with this release as if you are falling in love with Joyce Manor for the first time. These recordings also perfectly track how their sound has developed into the sound we are now all familiar with.

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As this release reaches its climax, it becomes clear that this album takes you on a journey from an emotional acoustic duo to an emotional post hardcore quartet, and you can hear exactly how the path this band has taken has lead them to where they are now.

Even if you’re not a fan of this band, there is a lot to be taken away. Small things, like the way the recordings have the reminiscent sound of an old computer speaker or a musty venue, despite the production on this release being sharp and modern. This album is the perfect length for a few moments of escapism.

Songs From Northern Torrance is out now. Buy and stream it here.