ARTIST: JOYCE MANOR
TITLE: A MILLION DOLLARS TO KILL ME
LABEL: EPITAPH RECORDS
Joyce Manor have perfected the art of upbeat, emotionally introspective songs whilst coasting the line between being too sad for power-pop but too energetic and anthemic for emo.
As a band whose style seems to have always been shifting slowly and experimenting with their sound they have never strayed too far from the underlying feeling and emotion that has run through each of their albums. Forever wistful, often sad and longing, tinged with anger and retrospective musings their latest offering, Million Dollars to Kill Me, is a defining example of exactly what they’re best at. As a record that invokes its own resemblance to an early Jimmy Eat World, it encompasses both both indie-rock and early 90s emo in its ten song offering. As is typical of the band, the record is a short one as it sits around the 20 minute mark.
The album opens with ‘Fighting Kangaroos’, a track that wouldn’t feel out of place on Cody. Acting as the perfect bridge between the two albums it’s a track you want to dance to.As vocalist Barry Johnson cries out ‘Is it true you know I missed you back when we were little kids?’ you get the feeling that if Cody was the band growing up this record is what comes after.
“you get the feeling that if Cody was the band growing up this record is what comes after…”
Soft acoustic track ‘I’m Not The One’ takes the album from conventional Joyce Manor; energetic, shouting vocals, to a softer place. Seemingly starting as a love song Johnson croons ‘I’m not the one who invented the sun but I know who did’ before taking on a critical perspective of wealth and his own hardcore scene. With lines such as ‘booking the shows where they sell the most clothes cos they’re so limited’ and ‘baby when we die and we’re all gonna burn in hell’ the acoustic break in the middle of the record is anything but sweet.
Whilst there are a couple of stand out songs on the record ‘Friends We Met Online’ might be the most relatable. For 20-somethings finding solace on Facebook groups to share and discuss music or finding people to go to shows with the two minute tune of appreciation pays homage to all those online relationships that just fell in to place. As Barry confesses ‘it’s a really big part of our lives’ you can imagine this is a tune that fans are going to adore.
“The questions this album asks stick with you long after it has ended and is proof that, five albums in, Joyce Manor are as strong as ever.”
The album’s closer is a sweet but fragile one and by far the highlight of the album. Here we are far away from the brash and purposeful anthemic style of Never Hungover and Cody. ‘Wildflowers’ sees the band adrift as they wonder how something so beautiful can break your heart. The questions this album asks stick with you long after it has ended and is proof that, five albums in, Joyce Manor are as strong as ever.
WORDS: AMY ALBINSON