NO JOY play the Garrison on Tuesday (April 23). See listing. Rating: NNNN
In interviews, Montreal's No Joy often display discomfort with the term "shoegaze." Sure, their aesthetic is clearly tied to that much-lauded early-90s guitar rock movement, especially live, when co-leaders Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd obscure their faces with hair and their ethereal melodies with deafening swaths of reverb and distortion.
But reviews of the band's 2010 debut, Ghost Blonde, often reduced them to a list of influences, forgetting that there are actual songs underneath all that guitar noise.
Not surprisingly, then, their long-awaited follow-up (apparently a second attempt after a scrapped LP failed to live up to their standards) deviates from their early template. Recording for the first time in a proper studio, No Joy put more emphasis on the hooks, pushing cleaner vocals higher in the mix. Tracks like Lunar Phobia and Blue Neck Riviera even adopt dancey post-punk characteristics, including programmed drums and bouncy, prominent bass lines. Wait To Pleasure shows new facets, but that shoegaze tag isn't likely to disappear soon.
Top track: Lunar Phobia