It’s one of music’s great paradoxes: No Joy inevitably leads to joy. The Montréal shoegazers had a sneaky-great run early last decade, but they haven’t released a proper album in five years, though they did kick out a series of EPs including collaborations with Sonic Boom and Jorge Elbrecht, who is now a member of the band. In August they’ll finally return with the official follow-up to 2015’s More Faithful, albeit with a significantly different braintrust than they started with in the late aughts.
Jasamine White-Gluz conceived of Motherhood alongside a team of co-producers and engineers including Elbrecht, Chris Walla, and Madeleine Campbell. Tara McLeod of Kittie plays guitar and banjo on the album, while Jamie Thompson of Islands handles the drums. Supposedly a lot of wild sounds made their way onto the record, from scrap metal to a plastic clarinet. White-Gluz says she hadn’t read Sheila Heti’s Motherhood while writing and recording the album, but upon opening the book she recognized a kindred spirit. The album reflects on what it means to be someone’s child, the role we play in our parents’ lives as they age, the ways we see our parents reflected in our own experiences.
All of this lends a certain tint to the title of opening track and lead single “Birthmark,” which is actually about White-Gluz’s trip to a senior living facility to visit a relative a few years back. “There’s currently a devastating crisis happening in these homes across Canada and it makes me feel incredibly helpless not being able to do anything,” she writes in a statement. “It’s important to check in/write letters to seniors who might be in isolation right now.”
“Birthmark” is a hyper-catchy, spaced-out electronic pop track that reminds me a bit of Japanese Breakfast’s ’90s reclamations on Soft Sounds From Another Planet. No Joy are touting a Republica influence, which certainly shines through as well. The song arrives today with a quarantine-made video by Jordan Minkoff, with dancing by Diavion Nicolas. “I filmed myself at home and asked my very talented friend Jordan to help build a world around the footage,” White-Gluz writes. “Diavion had been dancing to No Joy on his instagram and I was a huge fan so reached out and asked him to choreograph a routine for this song.”
02 “Dream Rats”
03 “Nothing Will Hurt”
06 “Why Mothers Die”
07 “Happy Bleeding”
08 “Signal Lights”
10 “Primal Curse”
Motherhood is out 8/21 on Joyful Noise/Hand Drawn Dracula. Pre-order it here.