Montreal shoegazers No Joy started off with sounds as doomy and inconsolable as their band name, spinning tales of detachment and everyday dread over lo-fi treatments, guitar strangulation, and reverb abuse. As dreamy and exciting as the band could be, some details were lost in the fuzz of their 2010 debut, Ghost Blonde. While the follow-up Wait to Pleasure is by no means less obscured by feedback and noisy textures, the songs have a sense of clarity and determination that separates them from the band's earlier work. No Joy often get lumped into the ever-expanding vat of 2010's shoegaze revivalists, and though the influence of pedal-hoppers like Ride, Lush, Jesus and Mary Chain, and the revered My Bloody Valentine are hard to deny, a core of experimental tendencies and strong songwriting set No Joy apart. Diving into the album with the fuzz bass and driving drums of "E," waves of feedback and melodically disconnected vocals build tension as the slow-burning song lumbers up to even fuzzier heights with multiple guitar overdubs finally breaking through like a dam bursting. MBV-styled chord progressions and moody ethereal melodies characterize the pensive "Slug Night" and the tremolo-soaked "Lunar Phobia." These tracks come dangerously close to their inspirations, and would border on embarrassingly derivative if the songwriting weren't so strong. Throughout the album, subtle production touches help push the songs over the top time and again, be it the ghostly echos in the distance on "Pleasure," Cocteau Twins-esque snippets of disembodied vocals, or the constant currents of nearly subliminal guitar parts that glide beneath almost every song. The album is diverse without ever losing focus, shifting from shoegaze meltdowns to the more goth-pop electro of "Blue Neck Riviera" without sounding like the work of two different bands. No Joy succeeds wildly on Wait to Pleasure, referencing enormous influences without really using them as the sole template for their sounds. Along with contemporaries like DIIV, Fear of Men, Echo Lake, and a handful of others, No Joy falls into the camp of bands not just updating a style for the sake of nostalgia or lack of imagination, but actually pushing the boundaries of established great ideas. In their best moments, No Joy not only expand on these ideas, but improve on them.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas