ALBUM REVIEW: Joywave – Possession

Release Date: March 13th 2020
Label: Cultco Music/Hollywood Records


For their third full-length, ‘Possession’, indie rock quartet Joywave return to the collaged soundscapes of their 2015 debut, ‘How Do You Feel Now?’, to create a sweeping ride through funk, rock, and pop.

Filtered through chopped samples and frontman Daniel Armbruster‘s falsetto, this latest effort signals a confident iteration of the group.

Opening the record tentatively, ‘Like A Kennedy’ focuses on Armbruster‘s soft vocals and swaying piano chords, defying the tension inducing lyrics that float throughout the track. Supported by sporadic yet lush guitars, the track invokes a Queen inspired twist to their electronica spattered indie rock.

Bypassing the slow build of its predecessor, ‘Coming Apart’ delivers pumping synth lines and smooth vocal lines. Held together by Joseph Morinelli‘s funk tinged bass lines and a clever use of dynamics, the track pushes the pace of the record further.

Whilst previous record ‘Content’ moved away from the samples and electronic manipulation found in their debut, ‘Possession’ digs through Carl Sagan‘s Voyager Golden Record and melds synths to their indie pop with reckless abandon. From the see saw samples that blend with Benjamin Bailey‘s leads on ‘Half Your Age’, or the trance flavoured ‘Obsession’ and the juddering synths of ‘Blank Slate’ all giving additional depth to funk overtones of the record.

After the bouncing and defiant ‘F.E.A.R.’ introduces a more guitar driven element to the record, the second half of ‘Possession’ moves deeper into experimental and left-field influences, as the disco and brit-pop influenced ‘Funny Thing About Opinions’ sees the quartet channel early Blur and Pulp in equal measure to brilliant results.

Whilst Armbruster‘s vocals and Morinelli‘s bass lines may have been the focal points for the majority of the record, ‘Who Owns Who?’ sees Paul Brenner create multi-layered and groove heavy drum patterns. Following up with the overdriven and lunging ‘Blastoffff’, the quartet uncover new layers to their already expansive soundscape.

With the title-track and ‘No Shoulder’ bringing the pace down slightly, ‘Possession’ relies on ambient soundscapes and hypnotic melodies to create spinning and winding takes on electro-pop. Relying on tight structuring and Armbruster‘s effective falsetto harmonies, the tracks show a more restrained side to the group.

Closing with the stuttering and loose ‘Mr.Eastman’, harmonised synths and vocals push the track towards a sprawling and expansive soundscape; covering gliding guitars, trumpet led countermelodies and glistening synths to showcase the array of influences the record incorporates seamlessly.