When Joyce Manor’s self-titled debut album came out in 2011, it cemented the California quartet as one of the only bands perfectly bridging the ever-growing gap between punk purists and fans of Green Day-era pop punk. With every song clocking in at under 2:30, Joyce Manor has something for everyone, from the thrashing “Constant Nothing” to the party jam “Beach Community.” Four years after the release of their debut, the band has released the same number of LPs, each record showing an exponential growth in their lyricism and instrumentation from the previous.
The Torrance band’s latest album Cody is the biggest departure yet, with a focus on more vocal melodies and hooks, where their previous efforts were mostly fast-paced tracks that clocked in at less than two minutes. This new effort is immediately evident from the opening chords of album opener “Fake I.D.,” and Johnson’s vocals sound better than ever, thanks to producer Rob Schnapf, who anticipated the impact that doubling Johnson’s vocals would have.
The band has a new drummer with a more indie rock-oriented sensibility than the drummer that preceded him, and the songs are far more mid-tempo than most of their other work. In fact, there isn’t one song on Cody that’s reminiscent of the fast punk sounds of their 2011 self-titled LP. While this might have been something of a deterrent initially for longtime fans, Johnson’s focus on hooks pays off, making Cody the best Joyce Manor record to date, landing at number 10 on our best rock albums of 2016,
A few weeks after Cody‘s release, Joyce Manor frontman Barry Johnson and I briefly met in passing after a show in Detroit when the venue’s air conditioner broke, leaving condensation dripping onto the soundboard while the mics cut in and out. Despite this, Joyce Manor’s rabid following was raucous as ever. With the A/C out, the room was incredibly sweaty, leaving Johnson wondering to himself if he might be getting too old for this.
Last week I spoke with Johnson again, this time by phone and for a more extended conversation. He was en route to purchase lighter fluid to burn the first-ever Joyce Manor shirt, irked that he’d been offered $400 for it via Instagram direct message. We talked about everything from blink-182 to the making of the record that could help Joyce Manor break out of their “cult” status and more into the mainstream, even if they’re not interested in it.