No Joy are not by a long shot the only dreamy, shoegaze indie-rock outfit looking to make their mark on the summer of 2015, but they probably are the most committed. Spending up to twelve hours a day in an isolated farmhouse in rural Costa Rica during the time since their last album in 2013, the band had a vision of the record they wanted to make and weren’t going to stop until that vision became a reality.
‘More Faithful’ is the raging end product, the underlying beauty of singer-guitarist Jasamine White-Gluz’s vocals hidden under a torrent of chaotic riffs, overlapping, conflicting time signatures and distorted guitar. The nature of their makeshift Costa Rican studio gives the sound a certain unique quality, everything feels homemade. At times, tracks like ‘Burial in Twos’ and ‘Bolas’ feel distant, as though listening through the ears of a confused local, stood outside the farmhouse wondering what all that racket is. Other times though are strikingly intimate, vocals suddenly become crystal clear and the emotion struggling beneath becomes joltingly apparent.
The majority of ‘More Faithful’ is No Joy’s fastest, heaviest and most complex record to date. Opener ‘Remember Nothing’ launches purposefully into an onslaught of noise, with no time for slow introductions or conventional time signatures this sense of purpose is a recurring theme throughout. Racing from track to track, White-Gluz’s slow drawl hardly keeping up with the muffled but rapid drums and brazen guitars.
At times though, symbols and distortion give way to harmonies and melodies, stripping back and cleaning up the haze of noise-rock in favour of tenderness and order. It’s in these moments that No Joy are at their most striking, as the glaring heat of a hot summers day makes way for cool twilight White-Gluz allows more pitch and variation to creep into her voice while the aggressive thrash of guitars is replaced by a more delicate twang of melody.
The tracks which do this best; lead single ‘Everything New’, ‘Moon in my Mouth’ and ‘I Am An Eye Machine’ are the ones which break monotony. The intricate layering of warped guitars and echoing vocals is all well and good for the background to summer fun, but for No Joy to be more than this ‘More Faithful’ relies on these more intimate moments. Although these are sparsely scattered throughout they’re just enough to make ‘More Faithful’ more than just a half-listened to soundtrack to road trips and festivals but an album with heart, confidence and intimacy.