Article by KevW
It's probably fair to say that the debut album from London duo United Sounds of Joy isn't exactly full of radio-friendly pop hits, but that's not to its detriment. Michael J. Sheehy and Alex Vald were both previously in the band Dream City Film Club, although it's been the best part of twenty years since they worked together. Their first outing as United Sounds of Joy is something of a slow-burner, with a tempo that never gets past pedestrian, but these gently brooding pieces inhabit an interesting and ultimately absorbing sonic world.
Song titles hint at the spacious, cosmic sounds within. Single 'The Sun That Hides a Darker Star' might suggest apocalyptic post-rock, but eerie, simmering electronic pop is instead delivered, a bit like Air and Goldfrapp being plunged into a deeper psychedelic universe together. 'Wounded Moon' feels like the offspring of The BBC Radiophonic Workhop and Ennio Morricone on a downer, but it's paradoxically quite uplifting at some points, despite the somewhat bleak outlook, and it's followed by 'She Sets The Stars in Motion' which makes good use of wavering effects and a sparse beat with subtle orchestration lurking in the background.
The darkly menacing 'Dust Veil' uses spoken word on top of an industrial musical wasteland to cook up a cinematic highlight with surprisingly light and soulful interludes, and another big highlight is the pretty and understated psych-pop of 'I Hear Her Call My Name' which, along with the instantly memorable 'Queen of Seven Dials', could provide a good entry point for more casual listeners. The overall impression that 'United Sounds of Joy' gives is one of a quiet beauty existing within a sparse, nocturnal hinterland, like finding fresh shoots of life peeking through the charred landscape of a nuclear disaster. This may be an album that requires a little more effort from the listener than some, but those who give it time will reap the rewards.
United Sounds of Joy's website
Buy: 'United Sounds of Joy'
The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook