by Jackson Abatemarco
Close your eyes and allow your consciousness to drift into the rift between waking reality and the internal haze of dreams, all over a low hum of dissociation. This is the effect that shoegaze stalwarts No Joy have been able to consistently capture and evolve over the past seven years, culminating in their most recent release Drool Sucker. The album is a 9-minute, 45-second long waking vision that carries the listener on a cloud of fuzz and proves that with each release, No Joy can expand on and improve their ability to produce beautifully layered compositions of hypnotizing soundscape. They do this while simultaneously pushing their songwriting forward; Drool Sucker seems to elaborate on the deep cuts of the prior albums More Faithful and Wait to Pleasure but includes a visceral wash of noise that gives the songs a rawness more reminiscent of the Negaverse EP.
The EP opens with the sound of a ringing phone just to have the music drop immediately after an assumingly unaware voice says, “hello?” "A Thorn in Garlands Side" (presumably named for drummer Garland Hastings) starts as perhaps one of the most raw and cathartic No Joy tracks to date. The intro consists of jagged distorted riffing, and then, like a wave against a cliff, breaks into a powerful melody set over the backbone of an incredibly driving rhythm section. This allows space for Sarah White-Glutz and Laura Lloyd’s signature angelic vocal pairing. The melody in particular stands out on "A Thorn in Garlands Side," with a brighter guitar tone opposing the murky depths of the low end in the mix. At the end of the track the voice that said “hello” returns, saying: “I hope I could help with whatever you’re doing.” One gets the amusing sense that the caller has no idea how good of a track they just unknowingly contributed to.
"XO (Adam’s Getting Married)”, evidently named as a tribute to No Joy friend Adam’s recent engagement, stands out as a sludgy rhythm-driven deluge. "XO" is largely washed over by the hum of underlying sonic textures; by the end of the song all rhythm has transformed into a full on hypnotic trance. The buzzing continues and grows louder under the etheric calls of White-Glutz and Lloyd, before returning to the low-end-driven verse, only to end with an even more powerful trance devoid of any percussion. This track seems to expand on much of the motifs presented in More Faithful and shows a clear progression forward for the band.
"Theme Song" finishes the EP as a more chilled-out sampler of No Joy’s impressive capability of creating perfectly balanced songs. Listless and unfocused with murky bass tones and completely effected guitar, the track sounds a million miles away. As the rhythm section drops off and the highly effected riffing carries the song, we hear two samples placed over each other that progressively leading back to the chorus. "Theme Song" feels like a track for those who have been listening since 2010, positive and airy but simultaneously alluring and mysterious, a style No Joy has had on lock since their very first release.
All in all, the Drool Sucker EP stands as a solid move forward into increasingly more interesting material for No Joy. Somehow, they they have been able to do this consistently, release to release across their discography. They don’t betray their sound but instead drive it forward into aesthetically pleasing and musically interesting territory, ever maintaining a phantasmagorical presence that defines them as the most important shoegaze band of this decade.