JoyFocus - Cyber Suburban Electro Rock Circus

JoyFocus are the Illinois-based duo of Holly Joy and Rikk Currence. Holly does the vocals, Rikk does everything else. CSERC was released May 2009, and before listening to it I scanned the influences: ABBA, The Misfits, Kenny Rogers, Stryper - and it goes on, alternating between greasy headbangers, middle-class tweedom, hair bands, punk and beardy 1970's retro chic. Something for everyone then?

Opener 'Audrey is Gone' willy-nillingly leaps around the genres avec radio-friendly riffs, piano breakdowns, Corrs-y vocal melodies, Wilson Phillips-esque harmonies and a Brian May-ish guitar solo for good measure. All very lovely and very mainstream radio? Not quite. Clocking in at over 6 minutes, the track's show-off eclecticism and overly thought-out production (lots of reverb, especially the programmed drums) probably isn't going to get played in full on most time-constrained radio stations.

The following couple of tunes continue where 'Audrey' leaves off: intricate arrangements, big melodic choruses, poppy sensibilities, but somehow lacking the bite - the ... focus, dare I poo-pooishly say it - of a perfectly crafted pop song (which is what JoyFocus are ultimately trying to achieve, despite The Misfits et al. influences).

Token ballad 'Prayer' sees the first vocal appearance from Rikk. I think it's him, anyway, or that blond fop from Puddle of Mudd. The song lays back for a harmonic breakdown a minute-or-so in, and, stays there, wallowing in its own pitch perfect juices for the next 4 minutes until it humbly tinkles away on the piano lacking a rom-com movie's visuals to transposition it someplace else where it would sound more congruous. And this is our problem: as a soundtrack to The OC - or something equally American, mainstream and very 2003 - JoyFocus makes perfect sense, but standing alone the music washes over one too easily - which is a shame because of the thought which has gone into the arrangements and production etc.

Lurking between the remaining 5 songs is a cover of The Eurythmics' 'Here Comes the Rain Again'. Its evocative string melodies are as spine tingling as the original, but unlike, say, Marilyn Manson's cover of 'Sweet Dreams', which took an Eurythmics track in an exciting, unpredictable direction, JoyFocus doesn't do any of that. It's sweet and saccharine to the point of karaoke.

by Daz E.

Visit the JoyFocus Website