JOYCE MANOR – ” 40 oz. to Fresno “

Posted: July 8, 2022 in MUSIC

For over a decade, Joyce Manor have epitomised pop-punk’s cathartic power. Although they bear some of the genre’s conventions – namely their impassioned expression of suburban angst and songs that breeze by in one or two minutes – they don’t sit squarely within its walls. If you go back through their albums so far, you’ll find traces of Midwest emo, chugging power-pop and delicate, jangly indie rock. Their channelling of influences posits them as one of the most curious yet inventive bands of their ilk.

This lead single from Joyce Manor’s sixth studio album, “40 oz. To Fresno” (due for release on June 10), feels like a release of pressure. The feeling of a valve being eased in singer/guitarist Barry Johnson’s head as he barks his way through evocative lines like “Big Yellow Shell All Fucked Up And Haunted” is palpable.

It results in some of the catchiest songs in the band’s arsenal. Take ‘NBTSA’, a 2017 single given a fresh lick of paint. It’s the musical equivalent to dropping Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke; guitars fizz as Thaxton’s drums and Matt Ebert’s bass drive towards the eruptive chorus. As jubilant as the song is, it reflects Johnson’s bubbling anxiety, which intensifies at the titular refrain.

The dichotomy between fragility and buoyancy is well-trodden ground for Johnson. “40 oz. to Fresno” is strewn with familiar weariness. On pop-punk throwback ‘Gotta Let It Go’, he reminisces about walking aimlessly at night and hitching a ride in his friend’s stolen car, ultimately coming to terms with his lost youth. He’s at his most direct on ‘Don’t Try’, where he achingly admits to his loneliness (“I feel so far away/I missed you so much today”).

It’s Joyce Manor’s ability to meld disparate styles that still sets them apart. Whether it’s the wistful ‘Reason to Believe’ with its chiming guitar, or the heartfelt Weezer soundalike ‘Secret Sisters’, every song is quintessentially them. While their pop-punk peers stagnate, Joyce Manor continue to take interesting and surprising shapes.

Releases May 20th, 2022

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