In my last album review, I wrote about my dissatisfaction with the most recent Wombats album, “Fix Yourself, Not the World.” Well, I am back again with another review. This time, with something I enjoyed.
Joywave, in recent years, has become one of my favorite alternative bands releasing music. All of their albums have been solid pieces of work. Nothing has changed with this new album, “Cleanse.”
A feeling of high energy is constant throughout the album. Each song on the album seems to include something refreshingly unique. The overarching themes in “Cleanse” seem to be about our relationship to fame, people and technology.
The appropriately titled “Pray For The Reboot” opens the album. The vocals are soft and croon over lyrics pondering if, after everything the world has been through, can we start over? Or are we too late for a “reboot?” Towards the song’s end, everything gets loud, and the softness is interrupted by a guitar solo. This is our first hint of introspection and wondering if everyone will be okay in the long run.
Some of my top Joywave songs have been the ones where they highlight their dry sense of humor. This is in no short supply in “Buy American.” The playful sound of the song is juxtaposed with the largely satirical lyrics. I had to listen to it a few times to get the full scope of what was being said. “Buy American” heavily focuses on American consumerism and our need to strive for perfection. The lyrics poke fun at the popular phrase, “Live, Laugh, Love,” by saying “Don’t care, buy American/Think less if, it hurts more baby/Live, laugh, like I always say/When it breaks, we’ll get the whole thing replaced.” Those words show that only embracing the good, easy parts of life and pushing out the bad parts does not mean your life will be happy. You need to embrace the good and the bad parts of everything. Also, material objects will not fix our problems.
The album’s message is evident throughout, and the sound is crisp. Mixing an electronic sound with guitar and drums makes it something exciting to listen to.
“After Coffee” highlights the mundane aspects of life. The track begins with the narrator telling us about his morning, “This morning was lovely, I woke up in my bed again/I poured the granola, I got butter and bread.” This is one of the most somber songs, and you can feel the narrator’s anxiety as he goes through his day. He’s questioning if he should leave everything behind and start a new life. “After coffee, sitting alone in thought/Wondering if I should give it up/Move away and find a little spot on the coast/No reception and my secret goes unknown.”
Many of us share a feeling of existential dread about the future. Joywave effectively expresses these feelings. The lush sound contrasted with the sardonic lyrics.
“The Inversion” is a totally unexpected song, a complete flip from the softness of what came before in “Goodbye Tommy.” Everything is turned up to maximum volume here; it’s angry and brash. The words are dripping with venom, and it’s an emotional gut-punch from start to finish. The instruments clash with each other making it one of my favorite songs.
“Cleanse” takes the listener on an emotional trip and it’s something I can’t wait to relisten to. I highly recommend listening to it from start to finish.