Today, there are more people paid to write more words for less money about more music than at any point in human history, and it’s not a point of pride to be one of them.
It feels kind of phony, really. I mean think about it: did you read anybody that made you think differently about Aphex Twin’s new album? that made you think it was more than “good” or “bad” or “overhyped” or “overdue”? that didn’t mention a wide array of instruments and a “prolific” back catalog?
We’ve gone from Lester Bangs and Pauline Kael’s deeply personal impressions to writing about art like cavemen grunting SEO-researched keywords and pointing you to the cash register. Someone is probably going to go crazy, get laid, conceive a child, fall in love or start a fight while listening to it. But apparently none of those people can fucking write, or have nothing worthwhile to say about the experience, or they work for the British music press, which specializes in vacuuming every ounce of sincerity out of the written word prior to publication.
But then you come across that one, and it’s more than “dope” or done by “good people” or “legendary producers” or folks with instruments you can describe in three letter area codes and sound smart when you do so. You don’t just like it – you want to tell everybody you know about it. And it’s going to be a hard sell because there are some really rotten records out there and everyone’s grunting the same words. Soulful. Refreshing. Future classic.
But with this one, words come easy because I want you to listen to this, I want you to listen and tell me that I’m not crazy but more importantly that you like it too. That’s how I feel about “Free” from Moods & Grooves, released earlier this year and what inspired me to write about it, and that’s how I feel about “Joy” a compact but powerful anthem of affirmation from Mega Jawns.
It’s about feeling more than anything concrete. “Joy” is that odd sort of song with a delivery that simultaneously undercuts and emphasizes its title. The vocal by Will Brock and the choir behind him belt out the refrain in short bursts of “joy” rather than the sloppy and overwrought sort of ecstasy you’d expect in a dance music song of that name. (Disclosure: the other half of Mega Jawns, Will Sumsuch, has written for 5 Magazine in the past.)
And maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the overall vibe reinforces this – a sound evoking, for me, the 1980s when soul went pop. I’d call it “high tech soul” if that didn’t already have a definite meaning. The music seems to be in a constant state of motion, with a thick bass at the bottom holding it altogether with a thump.
The single is lacking a contingent of remixes – surprising, because this sort of R&B with gospel influence has repeatedly been the raw material for classic dance floor material. The full Mega Jawns album, Ten Letters From Home, was also just released by BBE.