Sick Joy // we’re all gonna f***ing die // Album Review
The hardened palettes of alt-rock revival are ready for something that will throw them from side to side like the tempestuous rag doll it is. Sick Joy, the Brighton-based three-piece band from Newcastle comes striding in as strong contenders for that crown.
Their fresh-faced debut album, ‘we’re all gonna f***ing die’ slices its way into the scene a few mere months after the initial EP was dropped. And boy did it make one heck of a splash. BBC Radio 1, Kerrang! and Radio X to name a few were at the industry gates- spears in hand – fiercely proclaiming support of the band. An outburst of Sick Joy fans was spawned and they were more than happy not to have to wait long for the band’s full-bodied LP.
Released on So Recordings the same weekend they play Hyde Park Festival, I was very much eager to get my hands on the album and see if it would prove itself to those career-plugging industry hawks as worthy prey. So, let’s see what Sick Joy has to offer…
From the outset, I was expecting a fist-thumping opener. So as those first four easy over, steady-ridden chords started playing, I was a bit surprised. ‘alive on the inside isn’t what you’d usually expect from track 1 but the emotively charges lyrics and moody overtones do set the table with a certain ambience. Breaking out the vulnerabilities from the get-go is a bold move but Sick Joy do it well.
Next up we have ‘belly aching beast’ featuring fellow musician and illustrator Jamie Lenman. If the opener was the no-sweat soup starter then this is the meat feast burger main course. A dirty, slam grunge riff runs throughout whilst chaos ensues in precise drum technicalities that forge a fine piece of music. Listen out for that harmonica solo.
‘deep dream’ is another pacer but with more guts than the first. The phonemicizing chorus is perfectly procured; by the end of the first quarter of the album, it’s clear the production isn’t going to leave any stone unturned. A shout out to bassist Danny Piston who throughout is a rhythm stronghold.
Track 4 ‘don’t feel like dying is an absolute top cracker. Maybe it’s just me being a sucker for a good upscale major chord progression but the song has real graft. A late-night anthem for those early morning homeward ramblers looking for consolidation after a night of debauchery. It leads perfectly into the badass strutting ‘I’ve got more than I need (and I don’t have much)’.
‘nothing better’ is a nice interlude before we’re brought back into Sick Joy quirk territory with ‘rich hippies’. We’ve all seen them and we all know one. Frontman Mykl Barton takes to his council estate roots as he lyricises those disparaging ‘freedom-lovers’ who are only able to be in that position because they have money. ‘You’re only free because you can afford it!’
‘sadisfaction’ has some quality guitar work whilst ‘stay numb’ toys with vocal play -another nod to the stellar production- and a crowd chanting bridge which I can see being drawn out in their live performances. (Barton also quips writing the latter with his co-habitation ex which in itself is pretty damn commendable for the awkwardness.)
The last quarter of the album sees Sick Joy veer into experimental lands with fine, prodigious results. The latest single released off the album, ‘talking to the drugs, sees drummer Drew Michael prove his worth amongst the throngs of noise-pop hard hitters with syncopated high hat twists and snare slams.
‘the blood, the bliss’ features a lot of post-production effects entangled in the arrangement creating an imagined strobe-like visual as its backdrop. Appropriately named ‘ultimately’ brings up the rear with a sombre embrace. Barton’s eerie vocals hover above the instrumental as almost inaudible, ethereal phrasing singing out. It’s not so much a song as it is a specifically written outro that leaves a sweet taste in the mouth.
All in all Sick Joy has produced a layered and versatile debut album. I’m in no doubt it will capture the attention and the hearts of an industry domineering audience just waiting to be enticed by the next big thing. The material lies both solidly on the surface whilst also digging way deep down below, harbouring each emotion with earnest passion. ‘we’re all gonna f***ing die’ will be a great ride for Sick Joy to promote and an even better one to perform live. I can’t wait to see what the guys do next.
We’re all gonna f***ing die arrives this coming Friday, July 8th courtesy of So Recordings
The album is released July 8th on So Recordings (Placebo, Deaf Havana, Dinosaur Pile Up). That same weekend, they play with Pearl Jam and Pixies at London’s BST Hyde Park and appear at 2000 Trees Festival