Album Reviews

Little Joy – Little Joy

(Rough Trade) UK release date: 3 November 2008

If you’re feeling the need to let a bit more sunshine back into your life, then Californian trio Little Joy are here to fill the void left by the English ‘summer’.

Narrowing them down to Los Angeles, where their debut album was recorded, is only half the story – for this outfit have previous. Vocal duties are shared, with Binki Shapiro and Rodrigo Amarante (of Los Hermanos) also bringing a variety of twinkling instruments to the table. On drums is none other than Strokes stick man Fabrizio Moretti, his substantial job description including guitar, piano, bass and melodica.

This gives an indication of the sonic breadth and variety of styles open for use on this album – but not of its subtlety in choosing exactly the right sound for the occasion. For this is a wonderfully affirming reord that spreads its charms far and wide. One listen thaws the heart; two and you’re completely won over.

Amarante and Moretti sowed the seeds for Little Joy in a meeting at a Lisbon festival, and some of their debut is sung in Portuguese, Don’t Watch Me Dancing especially charming with its lazy guitar. It’s appropriate, too, that New York should stake a claim on the music, and there are hints of the Strokes’ garage style, if not its raw guitar power.

Instead the trio enjoy their thoughtful scoring of instruments, with a sparkle from the glockenspiel, not to mention a strum of the ukulele or the distinctive sound of the melotron.

Meanwhile the songwriting is a joy. From the opening gambit of Next Time Around, spreading its sunshine state liberally, through the wistful Play The Part and its poignant observation that “now I’m glad you stayed”, to the longing harmonies of Brand New Start. Perhaps most touching is the slightly self-conscious conviction of With Strangers, which proclaims, “Mama you’re gonna be so proud of me, when you see me hanging in a New York gallery”.

‘Little Joy’ actually refers to the name of the area in which the recording of this album took place. But in this case, a little joy goes a long way – a long way towards one of the more carefree albums you’ll enjoy this autumn.

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Little Joy – Little Joy