Before getting to “Fake I.D.,” let’s lay down some background on Joyce Manor. The California four-piece works in a grey area between emo and punk. Their lyrics skew far more often towards crypticness than the melodrama in their emo and pop-punk contemporaries’ work. Their songs are complicated, throbbing with raw energy and short: their four LPs all clock in at fewer than 20 minutes. The band’s 2011 self-titled debut posed a commitment to bile and pettiness that continued throughout their later releases. Joyce Manor are weird (consider a song called “Ashtray Petting Zoo”) and blunt, if not mean, willing to call out former friends for “pissing out your insecurities to people who don’t need you now.” Joyce Manor established the band as an angry and immature counterpart to emo’s central pathos.
Throughout the ensuing years, Joyce Manor continued putting out complex emo/punk releases and pissing off and thrilling people along the way. 2014’s Never Hungover Again proved that the band’s central aggression burnt strong even as their sound matured, partially thanks to production by Hop Along’s Joe Reinhart. During the same year they also riled scenesters by stopping shows to call out stage divers. Was singer/guitarist Barry Johnson standing up for vulnerable fans, or was he defiling the spirit of getting your nose broken in the name of punk rock? Who’s to say. Johnson took most of the blowback from enraged tweeters and the whole debacle inspired the excellently titled Noisey article “Is Jumping on Someone’s Head OK?” Simply put, Joyce Manor has long been rightfully regarded as an exciting, divisive band making music that is somehow both accessible and enigmatic.
And then there is “Fake I.D.,” the first single off of Cody, which is slated to be released by Epitaph Records on October 7. One of Joyce Manor’s long-time strengths is their ability to draw out bizarreness and discomfort from everyday items and places: beach communities, leather jackets, toy train sets. “Fake I.D.,” however, veers too far into mundanity, focusing largely on a conversation about just how great Kanye West is (according to the song’s characters, he’s better than John Steinbeck and Phil Hartman). The band tried out “Fake I.D.”’s power pop tone in Never Hungover Again’s closer, “Heated Swimming Pool.” The wit and strangeness that carried “Heated Swimming Pool” are absent from “Fake I.D.,” replaced by lagging references and a new sense of earnestness. Perhaps in October we’ll find that “Fake I.D.” is an odd one-off from Cody and not the harbinger of a calmer, sillier Joyce Manor.
Shay Collins is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.