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Content Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

On their sophomore full-length, New York quintet Joywave deliver a layered, complex, and engrossing album of emotional depth and dynamic sonics. Content arrived two years after their debut and the evolution is clear. While How Do You Feel Now? managed to be a strong collection of catchy tunes, it was nonetheless quite similar to the output of many other contemporary synth rock outfits. On Content, the band focuses on mood and atmosphere, playing with space and exercising restraint for maximum effect. On the thrilling "Rumors," frontman Daniel Armbruster reminds listeners that "Substance has got to count for something" over a sleazy throb that descends into a storm of handclaps, drums, and distortion. "Going to a Place" is another highlight that does in fact go to many places. One of many Hot Chip-esque tunes, it features a mid-song exploratory jam that morphs and twists toward an end that fizzles into the ether. It's a satisfying sort of whiplash that repeats itself throughout Content, from the explosive title track to the gorgeous "Shutdown" and the experimental "Thanks. Thanks for Coming" to the jazzy lounge surprise "Let's Talk About Feelings." While hints of Radiohead ("Doubt"), Empire of the Sun ("When You're Bored"), and the aforementioned Hot Chip connect Content with the sounds of contemporaries like Battle Tapes and James Supercave, Joywave have nonetheless found their own voice on this album. In their search for "the difference between what content and content can bring," they've produced an effort that provides both that substance and satisfaction.

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