Joywave – Content
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of OK Computer, the album’s influence continues to cast an icy shadow across modern rock ‘n’ roll.
Like Talk Talk before them, Radiohead imploded a genre’s template and reassembled it using the jagged shards that littered the ground. As easy as it is to spot their influence today, that influence almost always manifests itself musically. Thematically, OK Computer was a harbinger of our own alienation within a digital world where consumer impulse could be satiated with a single click. With Content, Joywave bring us a soundtrack for the world Radiohead warned us about.
The title track opens with the underlying premise at the heart of the record – is there a difference between content and content? Industrial noise ebbs and flows around the question which singer Daniel Armbruster asks over and over again; as computer modulated voices sing back at him. It’s a haunting track full of dislocated electronics and soft/loud dynamics, but the question remains unanswered. The song flows directly into “Shutdown” which begs us to “have those feelings that you used to have” as the music opens up and finds a beautiful sonic intersection between Hot Chip and The War On Drugs.
The centerpiece of the album, “Rumors”, declares “substance: it’s gotta count for something” as it did in the past and as it will, hopefully, in the future. Reading the protagonist of the song as music itself, the lyrics encapsulate our current dilemma where the hyper-acceleration of information brings us an endless stream of music to absorb as quickly as possible as we click and click in fear of missing something important. Of course, with every click, we move faster and faster with no real way to discern where the importance lies. We never make a connection. That is the life that Thom Yorke saw coming and the one that Joywave are trying to escape from throughout Content.
The album ultimately rejects the quest for content and pours itself into the need for contentment. Closer “Let’s Talk About Feelings” is an uncertain love song for a couple who dare to look up from their phones long enough to escape the dull glow of a Facebook feed. The organic instrumentation reinforces the possibilities that exist if we divorce ourselves from technology. Full of twitchy electronics, raw guitars, and focused writing, Content proves to be one of the most engaging albums of 2017.