ALBUM: UNITED SOUNDS OF JOY – United Sounds Of Joy (Bronze Rat)
Dystopian shadows and dream almost too real to…. ? Dystopian beauty? Can you have such a thing? This really is a beautiful album, it feels dark but it really isn’t, it glows, dark jewels, alive and bright in a darkened room? Dust in the sunlight of the early morning after? She sets the stars in motion, escaping the darkness, and do we really need the Government Issue gas masks? Hold on tightly lest we should fall into the dark that would swallow us whole. No good sitting on the fence here, this debut United Sounds of Joy album really is special, this really is a sound of holy joy. A band of holy joy? Are United sounds a band? Can we call this a band? A come back? Glorious joy, or maybe a dystopian beauty, restrained noir, a whispering, a glow. Had this album spinning for a few weeks now, pinning it down with mere words is almost impossible, this really is no time to sit on a fence though, this is a beautiful album.
United Sounds of Joy then, what comes around goes around, well no not really, I guess this review does need some context though. Back in the middle of the 1990’s we (we here at Organ via our then record label Org) put out the first recordings of an exciting new band called Dream City Film Club. The Film Club went on to release several glorious albums on bigger labels before they imploded. Frontman Michael J Sheedy has since released several delicious solo albums and right now he’s a big part in one of the most vital live bands out there. We’ve said it several times already on these fractured pages, Miraculous Mule really were the band to go toe to toe with last year, if you’ve encountered the raw electricity at one of the Mule’s basements shows (or indeed shop window gigs) then you know what we mean, you just know, you don’t need our words and you don’t need us tell you that when they do fire it up again they’ll be just as vital this year. There’s always been several sides to Michael J Sheedy though, where Miraculous Mule peel you with their raw attitude, their knowing swagger their roguish smiles and their gospel spilling soul, Michael’s solo albums have been all kinds of darker shades and moods. Alex Vald was the guitarist back there in the last century when Dream City Film Club first emerged all Bauhaus-good and Virgin-Pruned, all Pissboy putting on his pisscoat and hitting town, and so, almost a couple of decades on, two of the four parts that made up Dream City Film Club got back together…
“Don’t call it a reunion” spits Michael J Sheehy “…we’re not even a band in the traditional fashion”. Dream City Film Club were signed to Beggars Banquet within a year of forming in 1995, released an album and recorded two Peel sessions before Vald was unceremoniously kicked out.”Alex was dismissed because he was the only decent human being in the band”, says Sheehy, “we were intent on dismantling the band from the off, everyone was pulling in different directions, each with his own very particular variety of personality disorder, drug abuse or mental illness, and if all that stuff hadn’t of got us then I’m sure we would have buckled beneath the weight of our very lofty pretensions.”Almost two decades removed from each other’s musical energies, Vald and Sheehy have reunited to craft some heart-rending, mind-bending music. Coming on like Joe Meek and Goldfrapp entangled in some ancient machinery”
This really is a beautiful album, seams of sorrow in places where the lost and broken meet to fasten the strap of a shoe. Bitter sweet memories, songs like lovers who suddenly disappear; hold on the tightly lest we should fall. The Orange glow of street light, The dull halo or electric light pollution, the delicate warmth of being alone, slender hopes afloat alongside re-runs of 20th century holidays shows, hold on tightly lest we should fall, this really really is a beautiful album.
Science-fiction filmscapes, spiteful starless nights, hold on tightly. This really is a beautiful album, a quiet album, an album that might swallow you whole should you let it in, you do have to let it in though, this is not something you can just throw on and get first time, these are songs and sounds that take some effort, some time and space – like a difficult book worth all the perseverance, a film you get second time around when you accidentally catch it again late one night when you’re home alone with just that street light he sings of outside the window for company. This is a beautiful album, hold on tight now, Ballardian, dystopian, widescreen-beautiful.
The fact that these two people were in a band called Dream City Film Club hardly matters, that was after all back in a different century, I guess they got to know each other somewhere in between, they know which buttons not to push now and Alex Vald does paint some wonderful colours, sounds that bring out so much in terms of Michael’s ability to sing like an angel. Sure, he can certainly sing with Miraculous Mule but he rarely sings like this, and oh look, this really is a beautiful album and.we’ve got to a point where I pretty much gush on these pages about everything that comes from Michael J Sheehy (and it really does puzzle me as to why he isn’t afforded far far more recognition?). This review has gone on far too long, I really should have just tried to tell you this is a beautifully understated work of beauty and say something about Alex Vlad’s wonderful canvas there Sheehy to embroider. I should have just said this is pretty much perfect, stupidly ridiculously so, and really should have just left it there gesticulating, (bottle in hand), I should have just said this is an album that quietly glows, a beautiful dark noir thing, an album almost too sweet to bare… an album so stupidly good, this really is a beautiful thing… (sw)
United Sounds of Joy play an album launch show at London’s Servant Jazz Quarters on Sunday, February 28th. The self-titled debut album is released on February 26th 2016 on Bronze Rat Records on CD, LP and via the usual digital formats