If only songs were sung, to guide the doubtful ones, beyond the rough where not as much is good enough. If you find yourself amongst the lonely ones, I’ll be waiting here with open arms. I can’t coerce you into this one, jealousy lay all your spells to bed. I’ll choose unloved instead.
Little Joy is a short-lived project of Rodrigo Amarante (Los Hermanos, The “Narcos” theme song), Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes), and Binki Shapiro (Adam Green and Binki Shapiro). This is the one and only album that the group put out, and to me, it’s a gosh darn masterpiece.
This album hit me at a tumultuous time in my life. The album for me was able to become a symbol for what I was feeling, no matter what the stage was, because of the bipolar nature of the tone of the album. The album is full of emotion: From the high highs of “Next Time Around” and “Brand New Start,” to the low lows of “Don’t Watch Me Dancing” and “Unattainable”. Little Joy became a stark reminder that things can go extremely well for a time, and you can feel on top of the world, and then things can come crashing down and you can feel like a hopeless victim of circumstance.
Holistically, you can see the album as the slow failing of a relationship. From happy lyrics in the first and second song, “I’ll belong to you, that’s how it’s meant to be, how it’s always been,” and “Ain’t no lover like the one I got” respectively. But time goes on in the album, and the lyrics change to something a bit more sinister. Lyrics move on to a fight in a relationship, such as, “So I won’t play a part I played before, not to you” or “Even though we have to say goodbye, keep me in mind,” or the lyric I first quoted. The album represents a slow death, and it hit me as a reality check. I took this album as a mantra of thinly veiled positivity disguised through a happy, beachy tune.
The songs are very beachy, and you hear the Strokes influence within the vocals. The same effect on vocals for the album, Is This It seems to be on Rodrigo Amarante’s voice in pretty much every single song. Amarante’s, somewhat raspy voice is accompanied by Shapiro’s often depressed vocals. In each song in which Shapiro sings, there always is an intense focus on her by making all of the instrumentation more spacious. There isn’t much layering on any of the songs and each is plainly made and plainly presented, with light acoustic guitar and ukulele. The most dynamically layered songs are usually the least meaningful, but the most simplistic songs are usually the most layered in meaning.
I think that a lesson that is taught throughout the album is that life is short and we should make the most of what we have when we have it. Time is meant to be lived through and experiences are meant to be shared, even if you do have to remain unloved. All of this perceived meaning that I took from this album is packed tightly into a 31-minute box. I still listen to this album almost every week, and usually when I go home and sit by the beach. I hope someone can listen to this album too and feel more prepared for whatever may come the next time around.
If only you, if only now