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‘Cleanse’ your palette: Here’s why you need to know about Joywave

| Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Emma Kirner | The Observer
Image sources: WXXI News

Joywave is like your best friend’s little brother. You love your best friend, of course, but their brother is funny, a bit weird and always keeps you entertained. After you meet them, you form an inexplicably close bond similar to an actual sibling. Somehow, you end up going to your best friend’s house just to hang with their sibling. This is how I came to love Joywave. 

In early autumn of my sophomore year of high school, my family and I went to see Young the Giant in Cincinnati, Ohio while they were touring for their “Home of the Strange” album. Joywave and Cold War Kids opened, and while I had heard of the latter, I was completely unaware of the former. During Joywave’s set, frontman Daniel Armbruster was quite literally sliding around on the stage, dancing like a madman and trying to connect to the crowd by enthusiastically waving his arms while shouting about Skyline Chili. 

Most people in the crowd weren’t impressed, but the quality of the band’s music and the band’s eccentricity pushed me to listen more after the show — and I was extremely glad for it. 

Joywave is a Rochester, NY-based group that has been regularly producing music since their formation in 2011. They are most well known for their collaboration with Big Data on a song called “Dangerous” as well as tracks like “Tongues,” “Blastoffff” (which was featured in a 2018 Fortnite trailer) and “It’s a Trip!”

Last month, the band released their fourth LP titled “Cleanse.” The band’s third EP, “Possession,” was released just as the United States went into lockdown. Housebound, the band found themselves with extra time and a creative void to fill. Frontman Armbruster stated in an interview, “No one asked me to make another record. It just happened.”

Style-wise, Joywave continually keeps a familiar sound while testing their boundaries. With each new record, listeners can expect to hear what they love with modifications that maintain interest. The band blends rock and electronic elements to truly create something unique and sonically pleasing. 

Joywave’s lyricism is one of the many reasons I truly enjoy them. They rarely miss the mark on their lyricism; they often provide intense imagery, heaps of extended metaphors and creatively warped words which conjure inventive ideas. When I find their lyricism lacking, it is because there’s something deeper that I can’t grasp solely from passively listening. 

Their lyrics are refreshing in the day and age of social media and technology. Many of my favorite artists address modern societal and cultural issues in ways that I find more or less unsophisticated. While there will be people who enjoy this, I personally favor and praise an artist’s ability to broach and criticize these intense and ubiquitous subjects with a bit of subtlety. 

“Cleanse” does just that. The record ponders the meanings and importance of ideas like consumerism, youth, cynicism, the interaction of physical and digital worlds and even mortality. It isn’t my favorite Joywave record (I don’t think anything could ever top the beauty of their debut LP “How Do You Feel Now?”), but it features some of my favorite tracks of theirs including “After Coffee,” “Have You Ever Lit A Year On Fire” and “The Inversion.”

I got the chance to see Joywave at Metro Chicago in Chicago, IL two weeks ago. Not only did they play wonderfully, but they had amazing car wash-themed set design and costumes, great light displays and they played some of my favorites from all of their LPs. 

There is, however, one problem I find with the band: Why aren’t they more popular? They have something that very few popular acts have: years of experience making music, frequent releases, familiar but varied music and fantastic lyricism and instrumentation. 

Maybe it’s because you could see them on the street and never know the talent they had. Maybe it’s because, as my sister said, they seem like they either did theater or were in the A.V .club (with no in-between). I can’t be sure, but they deserve more.

Artist: Joywave

Album: “Cleanse”

Label: Cultco Music / Hollywood Records

Favorite tracks: “After Coffee,” “Have You Ever Lit A Year On Fire?”

If you like: Bastille, Big Data, Glass Animals

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

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About Anna Falk

Anna is Scene Editor for the 2023-2024 academic year. She is a junior studying Neuroscience and Linguistic who talks about music too much for her own good. Follow her on Spotify @annam.falk

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