Album Spotlight: Joywave - "Possession"

>>Rochester, New York will always have a soft spot for their hometown band. But as they continue to put out more material, it seems like everyone else will too. Meet Joywave’s third child, furthering proof that Armbruster and his talented bandmates have found the perfect mix of electronic, rock, alternative, and pop. Possession offers up pop catchy melodies combined with driving beats that would pair well with all four windows down and a highway, something that probably everyone can relate to this past week.

The album opens with Like a Kennedy and it showcases the band’s versatility. If it wasn’t for Armbruster’s familiar high registering voice you could probably convince someone this song came out of the early 70’s. There’s a Brian May feel to the guitar and it sounds like Morinelli might have had his hands around the original “Red Special” for this track. This song might feel just off the beaten path for them, but it fits on this album and is both a flamboyant and poignant opener. The song offers more questions than answers and feels like the perfect commencement. The album as a whole asks a lot of questions in general, some philosophically ephemeral, others simple and direct.

Obsession, previously released as a single last August, feels like the clear and obvious front runner on the album for the top single. It’s radio friendly pop, but it has this wicked sticky guitar line that makes you move. There’s a four on the floor beat that makes you want to dance and it contains all the makings of a song that needs to be cranked up. It has close to a million views on YouTube already, and if you haven’t seen the video it’s absolutely worth the view and probably another one or two after that. There’s a lot to unpack. But with over two million streams on this track on Spotify alone the music can easily speak for itself.

The songs F.E.A.R and Coming Apart have a 1980’s vibe to them. There’s a spookiness to F.E.A.R. that lyrics and synth lines support. An eerie yet familiar feel that again adds questions to the mix. It isn’t completely clear what the acronym is for, but it certainly adds to the mystery and illusion of the song. Illusion that could also be allusion, a fun literary combo and a fitting mask. Coming Apart is similar, but with an M.J. vibe, the walking chord lines slightly reminiscent of Beat It or Bad. There’s something familiar beyond Joywave to these songs, something American, something radio, it’s something that is hard to pin down, and maybe that’s why it’s so good.

The title track, Possession might be the most thoughtful track on the album. The melody is pure intoxication and the theme of questions continues with “Am I a let down?” after maybe one of the catchiest lines in the whole album “So I just fall into your web until I lose all consciousness”. It resembles the sounds of the melody and then the brief and dreamy breakdown just after, a blend of keys and strings that feels like falling, hits you like a ton of bricks before the chorus comes back. The song is mature, concise, and poised without giving up on the band’s flavor.

The album as a whole ask so many questions. Will they build a wall in Like a Kennedy starts a river of them. But maybe Armbruster answers his own conundrums in the second to last track. “Ask yourself why to many times you’re going to disappear”. The final answer coming in the very last song:

I feel the shackles falling to the ground And I will miss my family every then and now 'Cause I am not my own, I finally figured out

That I can take my nonsense but they still have it all

This is a great album by a veteran and established band. It’s further proof that Joywave isn’t going anywhere. They’ve really only just begun, hitting their stride wide open, asking all of the right questions when so many questions need answering right now. This album and band no longer feels like Rochester, they feel like America, they feel like they can be themselves, an absolute Joywave.