Enjoy – Another Word For Joy:
By Bobby Beebe
Humor has always been the saving grace of indie rock. Sure, Pavement (perhaps the torch bearers of the modern indie-rock ethos) made some initially off-putting and pretentious records, but what always seemed to ground those records in some sort of endearing pathos was the sense of humor embedded in the songs. Similarly, Enjoy has proven that being strange and being funny can result in some pretty compelling and enjoyable music. Songs like “”Travel” and “Heading Towards Happiness” teeter on the edge of danceable, with nearly-catchy hooks broken up with unconventional time changes and nearly spoken vocal arrangements. It is in Wyatt Shear’s (half of avant-garde punk band The Garden) vocal melodies where the records undeniably pleasing sense of humor ensues. On the album’s second track, “Lifespan (I Hope It’s Long) Shear broods “I wanna live until I’m 95/I don’t care what you say I will survive.” It is this sort of wistful hopefulness that comes off as both endearing and funny. On “World Music” Shear romanticizes the ability of music to bring people together, singing “It doesn’t really matter if you’re black or white/Just get right down to the rhythm of the night.” Shear seems to be playing on cliches, both recognizing their absurdity and putting stock in their sentiment. The oversimplification of complex ideas of death, race, and love is meant to be sardonic, but not so sardonic that the listener isn’t able to hold on to their guilty pleasure cliches, if not only for a second. All of this humor is highlighted with Shear’s extremely embellished singing voice and oddly placed “oohs and ahhs” that would almost remind the listener of old R&B ballads if not for their parodical nature. Another Word For Joy is not a pop record by any stretch of the imagination, but Shear’s ability to create strange songs that seem oddly familiar is both endearing and challenging. The tension created by the constant use of pop conventions and the subversion of those conventions incited by their execution leaves no room for the music to get stale or lost, like a lot of the avant-garde of today.
Author’s Note: Obviously I should be reviewing the TWO new Frank Ocean albums. I know. But, unfortunately Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book came out first and I already used up my Apple Music free trial. Team Spotify forever.
WLFC Top 10:
10. Foxy Lemon – Butter
9. Kaleo – No Good
8. Local Natives – Fountain of Youth
7. Badbadnotgood – Time Moves Slow
6. Mock Orange – Nine Times
5. M83 – Go
4. Modern Baseball – The Wedding Singer
3. Bear Hands – 2 AM
2. Year of the Rabbit – Eskimeaux
1. Car Seat Headrest – Joe Gets Kicked Out of School