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Simple Perfection in Joy Cleaner’s Total Hell

// Music, Review // December 12, 2017 // Adam

I hate end of all the end of year countdowns with a passion.  All the “best of whatevers” to feed someone’s ego and narcissism in such a way that their opinion can quantify and reduce art to fit the formula of some weak-ass, bullshit “countdown.”  To make music a subjective competition is counter productive to the general purpose of this community.

That being said, Joy Cleaner‘s debut full length album Total Hell would absolutely be one of my sleeper picks that should be on everyone’s “album of the year” list.  Originally released back in July by Jigsaw Records, the album has just recently been re-released in a special, limited run on pink vinyl.  I’ve already got mine.  You should go ahead and get your copy NOW!

The power-pop trio Joy Cleaner made a big splash with this debut album in establishing a sound that is so incredibly reminiscent of the early nineties.  Total Hell calls back to the listener friendly stylings with songs that are both bouncy and dreamy, heartfelt but light, simple yet complex.  “Disposable Outcome,” the big hit from album, starts right up with a pulsing beat that carries into the chorus to juxtapose long winded vocals, “One of these days I’m gonna come down and tear you apart/ One of these days I’m gonna come down and tear you apart” adding a harmony on the second time through.  I’ve been listening to this album a lot recently while at work, and this is a track that makes me feel alive enough to bop my head and tap my feet while the other mouth breathers of the office quietly drag on with the 9 – 5 work day.

Where Joy Cleaner excels is in the efficiency of getting the most out of relatively simple sounding pop music.  This is done so well in discretely harmonizing and transitioning between distinct and unique riffs that keep the album sounding and feeling fresh throughout it’s entirety.  Even within singular tracks such as “Ritual and Dogma” there are tonal shifts that create a kinetic sense of linear progress rather than circling around repetitive jams and verses.

So, I know that now you’re probably clambering for more Joy Cleaner in your life, but that’s cool, N.J. Racket’s gotchu fam.  First, stop over at the band’s web store to order your copy of Total Hell, or maybe their split flexi disc with Spowder.  Then, check out Joy Cleaner bassist Kyle Wilkerson’s project Do Your Worst and Don’t Worry, which features live recordings of New Jersey’s best musical talents.  Finally, because I know that still isn’t enough, come out to Stosh’s on February 16 to see Joy Cleaner perform with one of their biggest fans, John Cozz of John Cozz and the Squirts.  It’ll be about as much as you can handle, and that’s exactly how we like it.

Written by Adam

Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.