There has been somewhat of a folk revival. An elemental desire for purified music has been awoken in us all. The naked and soul-bearing genre relentlessly battles to step into the limelight. Some would argue the fight has been won, with contemporary folk artists now selling out stadiums across the globe.
Mt. Joy have supported some of the pivotal spearheads of the folk movement such as The Lumineers, The Head And The Heart, and The Shins. Considering their latest album is produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse), you’d think you’ve heard it all before.
Released on Dualtone Records, Rearrange Us is Mt. Joy’s sophomore album. The Los Angeles-based quintet push and pull at the boundaries to wrestle free from the obvious comparisons. As they rearrange and reconstruct, will it all fall into place? Let’s dive right in.
Rearrange Us opens with the psych-folk sentiments of Bug Eyes. Graciously cascading synths collide with soothing melodies and picked guitar. The song dramatically veers and dynamically shifts into a categorical anthem. It is a colourful, psychedelic trip, and by the time the track crescendos any preconceptions will be set aside. Furthermore, the vivid production hints that Rearrange Us will be taking us on quite the journey. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride.
The title track is up next. It comes as quite a surprise as emotions shift to a funk undercurrent. The song jives and grooves with the excitability of a soul record, as the chorus swoops, Mt. Joy stake a claim as a band who are experimenting on all fronts.
“Have faith in the good”, Matt Quinn wistfully hollers. Delightfully uplifting and decorated with awe-inspiring harmonies, Have Faith is a gospel howl with the obligatory drone of church organs. It is only short, but every second will have you rejoicing in the discovery of Mt. Joy and what is transpiring to be a truly spectacular album.
This song is an indie disco jam that could easily sneak into MGMT’s catalogue. Dancing along, you’ll be moulded like putty in the hands of a band playfully puppeteering you in all directions of the folk spectrum. We’re well and truly witnessing a group free to roam and enjoying dispersing all misconceptions.
Next up is Let Loose, a 60’s style soul-blues and love thirsty toe-tapper. Reminiscent of Ray Lamontagne, or even Otis Redding, Quinn croons along to this cosy and summery track. The Hammond organ glides and the Dixieland lead guitar nudges to remind us of classic influences.
Christmas is often viewed as the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, for many, this is a period that exacerbates mental health. Bah humbug, an uneducated onlooker might say at the sight of a frown. “Every holiday, I feel that depression. From all this division”. It is a comforting folk ballad that puts a warm-hearted arm around the listener. Mt. Joy tackle a difficult subject and do so perfectly in this wondrous track. File it on your playlist next to Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley. A wonder of a record.
Come With Me
Emerging with beautiful and ghostly harmonies that will draw comparisons to the Fleet Foxes, Come With Me quickly swoops into a Steve Miller Band rock ‘n’ roll strut with the emphasis firmly on the roll. Hints of Rolling Stones brew into a Velvet Underground I’m Waiting For The Man style outro but laden with gospel melodies.
With a swampy introduction and glimpses of a folkier, downtempo Creedence Clearwater Revival, Death evolves into a chorus that will stop you in your tracks. It is a no-holds-barred earworm that is destined for the airwaves and fated for placement on a blockbuster and will have audiences reaching for Shazam to get another hit of this addictive song.
Like a psychedelic Ryan Adams, Acrobats drifts and floats overlaid by a persistent melody line. It bursts out of the stereo with heavier explosions before then shifting through the gears. A multi-coloured psych trip that adventures through different dimensions. Travelling through the ebbs and flows, you eventually find yourself somewhere in a Radiohead-esque euphoric outro wondering how you ended up here.
Dazzling with sentiment and aura, Witness grows into heart grasping folk wizardry. It is crafted with soul and technique. As the piano stirs your feelings, you’ll be planning to rerun the track with its infectious melody. It is full of emotion to feed the soul.
This song is reflective and one of the quieter moments of the album. We bear witness to the genius of Mt. Joy in their most stark form.
Us inventively blends into Become. A seamless transition between tracks lays testament to the behind the scenes work of the producer and mastering engineer. It is a song of great beauty and heart. Become, similarly to Us, continues to emphasize the more thoughtful and emotive section of the album.
Strangers brings Rearrange Us to a close, and it’s a euphoric classic. It starts with a piano part that is a non-guilty, disinfected Kygo style riff. The chorus elevates and will have you celebrating the discovery of a song that will become your soundtrack for years to come. Strangers stands out as the highest grade diamond on the album. This isn’t a detriment to the rest of the record as they are all precious stones. Purely, more of a testament to the quality of Strangers.
This latest offering by Mt. Joy pushes the envelope. While the backbone of the album is the folk-rock anchor we expect, the boundaries are dragged into surprising genres. From soul to psychedelia and many more, this is a record of multiple textures.
The cosmic allure of Bug Eyes and the immediate appeal of Strangers act as two bookends to this piece of work. However, take a more in-depth look, and you will find gold in the multi-faceted Rearrange Us. Mt. Joy are on a journey of their own and have gone a long way to find their feet. As a fan, you can’t help be excited about what they have in store for the contemporary folk scene next.