A titan of the indie rock scene, Mt. Joy rose quickly to prominence after their debut in 2016, and since the rapid success of their first album, their work has been highly anticipated. Their first two records propelled them into tours all over the world where they truly made a name for themselves.
Their third and newest full-length album is full of uplifting and energizing tunes that showcase the band’s range while remaining faithful to their gritty but inviting sound.
The album puts its best foot forward with its opening track, titled “Orange Blood.” This song offers easily the most textural variation on the album, building from a very soft start into a folk rock beat that crashes into funk for a brief moment.
The soft guitar that introduces the song accompanies Matt Quinn’s muted vocals, while a slide guitar echoes in the background. After a verse of English, Quinn breaks into Portuguese for a few lines before the drums enter and the slide guitar comes to the forefront.
Soon after, the sound clears away to feature the bass and rhythm guitar, combining funk and folk in a novel and groovy way. Unfortunately for those who favor that combination, the song wastes no time returning to the rock beat before an abrupt decrescendo brings it back to where it began for the outro. With its satisfying contour and stylistic diversity, “Orange Blood” is one of the album’s strongest points.
The album continues its energetic start with “Evergreen,” a classic folk-rock anthem featuring a driving beat and rough timbre. The overdriven guitar begins with a set of arpeggios before the drums come in and the guitar drops into chunky chords, pushing the beat forward.
The drums change the groove slightly throughout to match the movement of the song, but they remain fast and busy. The guitars do the same, occasionally returning to the opening arpeggios and introducing other countermelodies between rhythmic chords. For all but a short portion, “Evergreen” keeps the intensity high and the energy moving.
“Johnson Song” leans on the improvisational and sing-along aspects of Mt. Joy’s folk roots. The tune begins prominently featuring the bass, with soft acoustic guitar chords accompanying the vocals. When the chorus arrives, several voices sing in unison, and the beat becomes busier.
It’s not difficult to imagine huge crowds singing along to this simple chorus, which only features one lyric, “dance away ‘cause a Johnson’s coming.” It then leads into a long guitar break with background piano and after a final repetition of the chorus, a guitar solo fades the song out with soft voices singing the chorus in the background.
Another example of the group’s ability to pivot on a dime is “Lemon Tree.” This song builds from quiet guitar and keys, adding vocals and drums before a stop time that leads into a completely different groove and tempo. It’s a jarring change when the listener is used to the previous tempo, but it works to great effect and introduces an element of freshness.
When the vocals come back in, the new beat disappears as soon as it began, but it returns later on after another build. At this point, the group lets loose, with the guitar soloing around its melody and keys sounding like Steely Dan.
Mt. Joy’s third album is a fiery joyride that, even in its calmer points, brings an element of fun to every track. The songs feel at once comfortable and adventurous, simultaneously familiar and new, and at any point during its runtime the listener may have a smile on their face. “Orange Blood” is the perfect summer listen.