Little Joy

Daytrotter Session - Jun 16, 2009

Little Joy – Daytrotter Session – Jun 16, 2009
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  1. Welcome to Daytrotter
  2. No One’s Better Sake
  3. Keep Me In Mind

Timeless doesn’t come along all that often. If it did, there would be no stock to put in the word or in the very idea of it. There would be no need to get flustered and crazy about anything identified as such. It would just be rote and quotidian, so standard and disposable that it would pass by without impression. Little Joy, a band that counts Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti as a guitarist, but truly and most importantly features the talents of lead singer and songwriter Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro, released an album in 2008 that felt as if it were stitched together by all kinds of familiar smells, tastes, glances and sounds. It’s the kind of album that doesn’t make anyone work to hard to fall madly in love with it. It doesn’t test you and get experimental and dense in trying to do something extraordinary, but instead focuses on the most basic harmonic structures and chord progressions that have – for centuries – made people feel as if they were somewhere else without moving a step. The self-titled debut by this Californian band was simply one of the very best releases of the entire year, grossly overlooked by most, and it puts you in a place of such glittery escape, as if you’ve become one of the reasons that love works, a touch feels like home or Christmas or that a lake looks to be just begging to be cannonballed into without any clothes on. These songs feels as if they should be hummed into the ears of pretty girls by invisible beaus – ones that may or may never actually materialize but all the same mean every word that’s being whispered, that they should be played on old, beaten up acoustic guitars out on a beach somewhere after all of the day’s natural sunlight had been killed off and the glow from the fires on the sand is competing with the white moonlight for best dressed. Amarante’s poise and his cool and refreshing as a lawn sprinkler delivery are absolutely classic. He comes across as a man who worships the pop structure, who cries when the hooks are so sweet that it gives you a headache and just makes you convulse or let out an orgasmic shriek. It’s so lovely and so stark, his way, that it feels so effervescent and of the purest motives. He sings about love the way that we all could only hope to dream it up, as if there is a perfect recipe and he’s seen it – even cooked it up once, still slowly consuming what appears to be an endless batch or loaf, whichever it comes in. “Brand New Start” is an updated version of “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)” by the Four Tops, or is it a contemporary peer, a lost branch on the family tree. It tells the story of a reconciliation between two people who know that they’re best for each other and Amarante sings about the spirits lifting for them and then, “There ain’t no lover like the one I’ve got/She and I and a brand new start/Gotta give all my love.” It has the sound of a sentiment that implausibly hasn’t already been written, solidified in American song this very way before. It feels as if it should have been one of the original songs that would have been written by a man with a guitar when he was feeling elation with a lady that he’d met. All of the songs on “Little Joy” have this easy lull to them, this perfect golden oldie sweetness that is irresistible. There is a youthful quality to these songs with wide-open arms, giving us the ideal version of naiveté, where it all should be so easy, but never quite is. It’s as if there’s an underlying inference to just go ahead and dive on into that aforementioned lake. The waters could be ice cold or they could match your body temperature exactly – either way, it’s not going to hurt too badly. It’s as if they’re asking, “What’s the worst that can happen by going all in?” You’ll never know. Go for it because as Amarante sings, “What’s a day when the years are on their way.” Little Joy is this fountain of gorgeous optimism that will always force your day into turning out better than it otherwise would have.

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