I love it that we’re only into March and already this year the new bands dropping into my inbox are bountiful! As I’ve already mentioned in previous reviews, there really seems to be a bit of a 90s grunge revival/reinvention this year and Sick Joy are no exception.
Forming in Newcastle in 2016 this ‘post-grunge, dirty noise-pop’ trio uprooted and settled in Brighton and are already selling out shows there. They’re set to release their debut EP Amateurs via SaySomething Records on 23rd March.
This joyous 4 track EP is certainly reminiscent of the 90s, uncomplicated garage-grunge tracks thrashed out with sincerity and fervour. But this is not just a rehash of influences that are impregnated throughout, the likes of Nirvana, Pixies, Silverchair and so on. There’s just enough pop sensibility infused that will make it appeal all the more to the masses, like bands such as Feeder and Ash.
Opener “Senses” begins with a very Nirvana-esque intro, but the similarities end there. Screeching and urgent vocals provided by Mykl Barton (vocals and guitar) grab your attention immediately as the guitar comes smashing through, closely followed by crashing cymbals (Drew Michael) and seductive bass tones provided by Danny Piston. It grinds into your brain and tweaks those (very) distant memory, teenage feelings of angst.
This leads perfectly into “Smiling Shame”, more poppy; it’s as catchy as hell and it’ll have you singing along in no time. A massive change in tempo comes in half way that took me aback (in a good way). Bulky guitar riffs throw you off balance, Mikyl shouting down the mic, thunderous drumming and a crunching bass adds a real individuality to their distinctive sound.
But my favourite track is “Karma and Ketamine”, pure nostalgic 90s indulgence. The bass sultry and dominant at times, Mikyl’s sublime grungy vocals come to the fore enticing you into huge choruses that just want to make you dance. If you love the likes of Tiger Cub, you’ll devour this track.
Closer “Stumbler” takes on an altogether different vibe. Slightly heavier, it has a more of a garage rock sound. With an intro just crying out for crowd clapping participation, I can only imagine it being played out live. Driven by the rhythm section, again Mikyl’s vocals shine against fuzzed up guitars making this a striking track.
This is a fantastic debut from a band in their very infancy. 90s influenced, yes, but with a neo-grunge stamp all of their own, Sick Joy are definitely ones to watch.
- 17 Brixton Academy – London (w/ Feeder)
- 21 Sebright Arms – (w/ The Pearl Harts)
- 23 Green Door Store – Brighton (EP release show)
- 21 Bodega – Nottingham (w/ Bryde)
- 05 Jumping Jacks – Newcastle (Hit The North Festival)
Amateurs is out on the 23rd of March and is available to pre-order.