While many collaborations have trouble living up to expectations, Ty Segall and White Fence have a certain synergy to pull it off. Going for a concept record akin to a very demented take on The Who’s Tommy, Joy has tons of over-arching energy to it that makes it a really consistent and engaging listen. With this in mind, it’s the eccentricities of both Segall and White Fence that will decide whether you find this album testing as a listener or one of your favourites of the year.
The swirling of cries for Baby Blue on “Beginning” kicks off the album with an anthem-like momentum, as drums and Segall’s usual mix of guitars craft the record’s core sound. With guitars swapping between rustic majesty and growling distortion, Segall tells haunting stories of an evil town to make sense of the melodies on “Please Don’t Leave This Town.” Though it serves as nothing more than connecting tissue, there’s something soothing and truly exciting to “Room Connector” as you can hear the subtle dynamics building tension for what’s to come.
“Body Behavior” takes this into a shredding and disintegrating rush of guitar and vocals, as brutal cacophony plays against the tender playing of the song’s other instrumentation. There’s something oddly unsettling to how gentile the voicing behind the lyrics of “Good Boy” are, especially as the choruses swell much more energetically. Riding the continuous narrative and shifting energy of the album, “Hey Joel, Where You Going With That?” is a quirky and Who-like jaunt of a song, that is not altogether catchy but is certainly fun to hear.
Unlike other interludes, “Rock Flute” is a little too abrasive for its own good, and really doesn’t stand up to the running feeling of the record. “A Nod” however overwhelms you with amazing drum sounds and guitar tone, as Segall and White Fence take you through a spiritual awakening set to music. For every soft moment on “Grin Without Smile” it quickly drops you into a loud and heavy distorted section for a track with endless momentum.
Using its growling dog to set the tone, “Other Way” is a fierce and fast punk stomper with White Fence coming out in the mix much more than other songs, for a track that’s not afraid to get in your face. Almost like an after-thought outro, “Prettiest Dog” flip-flops back and forth a few times and just connects its next song. “Do Your Hair” runs right into the album’s Tommy-like energy for a very upbeat and thematically-fuelled listen.
While you might expect the longest track on the record to be some pop epic or overture, “She Is Gold” is a frantic and sometimes slow-burning instrumental that while fiery at times, is often too long for its own good. Though it’s unclear if “Tommy’s Place” is the pairing acknowledging their influence, the goofy writing is certainly enough to make you buy into their Who influence. After a lot of overtly-quirky pop, “My Friend” closes out the album with powerful, majestic rock that really takes every ounce of Segall and White Fence’s strengths and makes something memorable out of them.
Words by Owen Maxwell