Joywave are self-confessed haters of genre pigeonholing, and as such the Rochester natives somewhat satirically describe their music as a mixture of Pitbull and Coldplay. This blurred lines approach to music-making paid off in 2014, a year that saw the release of their debut EP How Do You Feel, numerous festival appearances, as well as their introduction to the late night performance circuit on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Joywave now starts what hopes to be a massive 2015 with the release of their debut album How Do You Feel Now?
The album kicks into gear immediately with heavy guitars, thrashing percussion and growling vocals. Somebody New betrays the band’s undeniable old-fashioned rock influences before launching into the bop-along indie-rock track Carry me, whose infectious beat and polyphonic bridge are exciting features. One of the band’s biggest tracks to date, Tongues ft. KOPPS, backs up the catchiness of Carry Me with its frenzied, groove-driven electronica, propelled by a hypnotic, robotic vocal riff, while the effective contrast between Parade’s husky deep bass riffs and frontman Daniel Armbruster’s effortlessly pure falsetto is punctuated by hard-hitting brass.
Joywave also cleverly dabble in unexpected theatrical, film and sonic life samples. A sample from Disney’s Fantasia features in the heavily distorted Destruction, while an adorable excerpt from Bambi prefacing the more relaxed house of In Clover. Destruction has the perfect combination of aggressive, blustery rock riffs and danceable synth to appeal to a broad audience. The relaxed In Clover, on the other hand, offers a nice change of pace in which driving sections of rhythm are pacified by moments of tender vocal mollification.
The latter part of the album really tackles the theme of expectations and reality for the Millennial Generation. The 7 minute, down-tempo, interstellar journey that is Traveling at the Speed of Light is a sonic realisation of youthful dreams and aspirations, while the 80s vibes of Nice House navigate the common struggle of static youth, with many young people unable to move out of their parents’ homes due to financial and employment instability. How Do You Feel Now? closes with the eerie Bad Dreams, a realistic slap in the face, using a dramatic, operatic choir to paradoxically accompany Armbruster’s statement: don’t you worry about your bad dreams.
All in all How Do You Feel Now? is an intelligent album full of eggs from unexpected harp solos, to gospel choirs and a cameo from Bambi’s loveable best friend Thumper. The album is a tapestry of influences and themes that perfectly reflect the Age of the Internet and will resonate with Generation Y. The high likelihood of confusion or identity-loss that accompanies such broad sonic exploration is fortunately unfounded here, as Joywave has created a debut that is both eclectic and decidedly their own.