Joyce Manor – Songs From Northern Torrence

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Joyce Manor

Songs From Northern Torrence - Epitaph Records

Joyce Manor has come a long way from their humble 6131 Records beginnings.  By the time the band released their debut full length, they had a solid – albeit simple – foundation, but they weren’t exactly groundbreaking in the vast sea of pop-punk. But against the odds, the charismatic Californian pop-punkers have become a recent staple on Epitaph Records.  Their evolution has been quick, with the band gaining a sizeable following while elevating themselves to a more complex musical plane.

But that’s not what we’re here to discuss. In fact, it’s time to rewind – back, back to a time where Joyce Manor had little idea of their future trajectory and aspired to simply play for intimate crowds in small venues.  The band has reached back in time to their initial releases, cleaned them up (slightly), and slapped two disparate collections of tracks together for a trip down memory lane in Songs From Northern Torrence.

The first five tracks bring together what have become a rare collection of songs from when Joyce Manor was but a simple two-piece pseudo-acoustic set.  These are five rough and raspy pop-punk tunes, ranging between one and two minutes (or slightly less), that retain their tinny production and DIY core.  “House Warning Party” is a perfect opener, setting the tone and the headspace that Joyce Manor occupied over a decade ago.  These tracks will sound foreign to anyone that has joined the Torrance quartet more recently, and actually shows just how uncertain the future was during those fragile formational years.  The songs here suggest the band could have diverged onto any number of paths, with the raw, scratchy vocals of some songs feeling akin to Direct Hit! And Yo Man Go and the rambling mumbling of others aligning more with The Smoking Popes.  It’s oddly compelling and entirely humbling to hear these modern heavyweights at their most fragile.

The second batch of five tracks largely builds on the ideas of the first half, but chronicles the band emerging as a four-piece.  “Constant Nothing” and “Chumped” continue exploring the aforementioned explosions of rough, messy vocals and frantic pop-punk riffs, whereas “Done Right” and “Beer Plan” start to hint at the slower, more methodical direction that has gradually defined the band’s present trajectory.  These final five songs would stand up very successfully against Joyce Manor’s present work, and could easily stand-in as modern experimentation on an EP or release.

Songs From Northern Torrance is a throwback to Joyce Manor’s origins and documents a band with all the building blocks to make it big.  As with all throwbacks from current artists, fans need to be willing to entertain that their favourite band didn’t come to fruition as the sophisticated songwriters of the present. By returning to their roots they offer a benchmark from which to remind fans just how far they’ve come in a short period of time, and a new home for some hidden gems that time forgot.  At barely over fifteen minutes Songs From Northern Torrance flies by in the blink of an eye, but even the shortest, most DIY sounding tracks retain a level of charm that is forever synonymous with Joyce Manor.