Album Review: Joywave – Content

No matter which way you choose to pronounce Joywave’s latest record – “CON-tent” versus “con-TENT” – the alt-pop album came highly anticipated. The jury is still out on whether or not it lived up to the hype, however. It’s definitely different from their typical smooth-and-shiny sound, but lyrics based around being unable to connect simply echo sentiments from what seems like dozens of other bands lately.


One thing I’ve learned this week: never judge an album by its opening track. “Content” feels disjointed, like the chaotic static is too forced. It’s a far cry from the Joywave that created the shiny-happy “SWISH” and “How Do You Feel Now?”, and the bursts of static seem to prioritize sounding edgy over the catchiness of the track. Thankfully, the band makes a shift back to their typical smooth, synth-filled indie pop sound after the first song.

As lead singer Daniel Armbruster sings about not being able to connect for eleven songs, it comes across as a mid-life crisis – although there are standout tracks. “Shutdown”, for example, is like the sound of the wind blowing on a cool summer day and has just enough of that chaotic edge to bring a kick to the song. “Rumors” is a little more futuristic, with strong EDM vibes and sound effects. As an album, the nuggets of darkness buried within the otherwise glowing synth-pop aren’t as cohesive as I’d hoped, but certain songs can be pulled from the bunch.

Photo: David O’Donohue

“Content” is not quite the mainstream glossiness that I’d expected from Joywave, but it’s nothing revolutionary, either. It feels as though everybody is singing about a lack of connection lately – just listen to Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now”, which Pitchfork tore apart here. That’s a whole other issue, though – sure, “Content” seems to be one big existential crisis, but there are pockets of solid synthpop. “Shutdown” has made its way into the rotation of my summer playlists, and “It’s A Trip!” feels light and fluffy enough to carry me away.

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