Album Review: Little Joy – Little Joy (Rough Trade)

It was always clear to me that Fabrizio Moretti was the coolest Stroke. Julian Casablancas tries too hard to be hip, and Nick Valensi looks far too much like Euro-trash to be from New York, which is totally uncool. Let’s face it, Albert Hammond and Nikolai Fraiture never even had a chance. Fab Moretti has gone ahead and perfected the apathetic musician look. That 5-day-old scruff, an almost unnoticeable slouch…I bet he probably raises his eyebrows often. I’d like to hang out with him, sit in a Brazilian cafe and watch him smoke cigarettes. He’d tell me about his adventures from touring, we’d listen to old Velvet Underground records.

I don’t even like them that much (but I’d never tell Fab that).

Once I tried to like the Velvet Underground. I was like a twelve-year-old who got too good at Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and thought he might be good at real skateboarding. I thought, “I like the Strokes, I must love the Velvet Underground.” Turns out, VU and I never really caught, which makes it odd that I like Little Joy’s self-titled debut so much. It seems like Fabrizio Moretti has been living his entire life with an IV containing the distilled liquid essence of Velvet Underground attached to his arm. This record is calm, fuzzy, warm, and perfect for a summer drive. Every song on the album seems like decent road trip theme music. It’s like the Velvet Underground grew up on Brazilian reggae instead of blues.

Little Joy starts off with “The Next Time Around” and “Brand New Start,” two tracks so breezy and cheerful that you can’t help but smile. Continuing on through the album, you won’t find many other songs with the good spirit of the first two, but that smile won’t fade. On “With Strangers,” the album’s most sincere track, the vocals of Rodrigo Amarante excellently express the lament of a man who knows his current relationship has come to an end. The music reflects on a more mysterious tone; those sweet, sweet harmonies during the chorus amplify the effect of such simple words as, “If only you, if only now.”

Four beats on the snare later, and Little Joy give us the delightful “Keep Me In Mind,” which reminds us of how much we all miss the Strokes. The calculated guitars and simple, yet effective, drumming achieve the effect that the Strokes have on their earlier work. While Rodrigo Amarante’s fuzzy voice is singing something over the music, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. This song is just too cool for the lyrics to be of importance.

Where Little Joy run into trouble is exactly where they let their calm instincts take over too much. If coffee shops had elevators, I’m sure they would play album closer “Evaporar” in them. It’s a simple, yet repetitive acoustic track, which adds little onto the album. What’s more, the song isn’t even necessary, by the time the serene “Don’t Watch me Dancing” is over, the album feels concluded.

So Little Joy overstays their welcome a bit, no real harm done. I mean, after “Evaporar” closes the album, my iTunes automatically starts playing “The Next Time Around” again, and I’m smiling. That’s what counts, right? It’s a simple message from Little Joy, relax and feel good, things are usually fine. A bit odd, considering the name, isn’t it?

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2 Responses to “Album Review: Little Joy – Little Joy (Rough Trade)”

  1. Thales says:

    Probably you haven’t understood little joy’s music proposal.

    By the way, “Evaporar” is a beautiful, intense and poetic song. If you even knew a little bit of portuguese you’d understand what I mean.


  2. Rosie says:

    I have to agree: the simple message of “relax, feel good, things are usually fine” is what I get from Little Joy also… and Binky’s voice is soooo poetic – btw, she was on the Carson Daly show last week and wore one of our dresses. :)


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