Such a simple word, but loaded up and weighed down with complex connotations. To be clear, I’m not talking here about the kind of multi-faceted, pitfall-laden joy that might come with winning the lottery, or upon realising that the love of your life thinks you’re kinda hot.
No, no! I’m talking about simple, simplistic, one-dimensional, pure joy. The kind experienced by a toddler clapping at bubbles, or by a small dog running maniacally through long wet grass. The kind of joy that used to infuse, even saturate, pop music back in the 70s, when pop music didn’t seem to take itself so damn seriously!
At the time, if you’re of an age to recall (or if you’re not of an age, hit up the YouTube and spend 30 minutes searching, you’ll see what I’m talking about), the melodic structures of even simple pop music tended to be more complex than the relentlessly repeated four-chord simplicity that the industry just can’t seem to summon the nerve to break away from these days.
Maybe because the music was more complex and intricate, and more demanding of the listener, the writers, producers and arrangers sought balance by making the overall product more joyful and less self-important?
Who knows? But I do know that from the very first chord change a few seconds into the first track of the latest album by British four-piece beat combo (that’s what we oldies used to call bands) SPYGENIUS, there’s an immediate, unselfconscious, simple joy oozing from almost every spin of the disc (that’s what we oldies used to call downloads) and almost every moment of the 13 tracks on offer on Blow Their Covers.
The influences that give rise to this, and all of the band’s previous creations, are as broad and eclectic as they are apparent. From 60s west coast bubblegum pop to 80s UK indie, it’s all on display. It’s not just the inclusion of a few covers as diverse as the Lennon-McCartney Step Inside Love (the one recorded by Our Cilla) and Squeeze’s Is That Love that makes the influences obvious. The original tracks stand easily beside these covers, with not a sore thumb in sight, and for the most part, they summon the same kind of easy, familiar, excitable, infectious, childlike joy that used to be available at almost every turn of the AM and FM dial on the radio (that’s what we oldies used to call Spotify).
If you’re not of an age, the only thing that you’ll miss from the list above is familiarity, but you’ll surely get everything else. This may not be a weighty, industry-changing, mode-resetting album. But it made me happy, and that’s more than enough! It’s been a while since a collection of pop songs had that kind of power.