Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver, Mastering by Sam Patlove
The video for the song "Hawaii," that you can view on Montreal band No Joy's MySpace page does contain some full frontal, but oddly enough, you find yourself not paying as much attention to the breasts and the nipples and the brief, jogging penis, but more in the cathartic revelation that this small group of young girls and guys seem to be going through. They enter the countryside in the bed of a pickup truck, passing some old barns - with the paint peeled from their outer walls - and the camera catches their faces as they lock in with some kind of intense abyss that's there, in no way, to make them feel special, but to make them feel the enormity of all that's around them. They freeze, stuck between the carefree sensation of hopping out of the bed of that truck and sprinting through the outdoors, getting into a thicket and letting your emotions take you away into a tongue lock or a clumsy embrace, which will one day be nothing but a fuzzy memory with a fuzzy face of another person you can't hardly remember, with a name that is slipping away from you. Here though, captured on camera, this dalliance with uncontrollable energy and attraction feels completely right, as if there's nothing much better or more rewarding. It feels as if THIS, yes THIS, is what's going to be lasting. It reminds me a bit of a brief conversation I had with an old friend the other day - albeit an old friend that I rarely see any more, more of a ghost from old days. We really aren't that old - a few years into our 30s - but we have children and she said that she felt old and I told her that we were old. She insisted that she wasn't old, as if that were the last thing she would ever want anyone to think she was. I found it interesting and a similar transformation - or something like-minded - seems to happen to these obviously young women and men in No Joy's "Hawaii." The images and the music bring us here - the haunting vocals and the atmospheric, happy-to-squeal-at-you guitars - to a point where the mind's shifted itself into a place that runs more on the complexities of life and interpretation than solely on what we look like and what we're doing at the moment. These girls, these guys, No Joy as a band, have been suddenly thrust into a place where redefining how old they believe themselves to be, how old they hope or fear others will consider them to be, resonates down to the core and they stop dead, thinking about matters. They go to the plants and they start swearing their pigments all over their naked bodies. They begin rolling around in the mud, covering themselves, until the tail-end of the video, when they've all reached a point of simple clarity and they begin to clean the grime from themselves. We are to see them back in the bed of that pickup truck and we're to look upon their solemn and seeking faces and feel that they've changed for good because of something that afternoon, amidst the frolicking. This permeates through everything on "Ghost Blonde," a record that will make you question all the whirring upstairs and all the invisible pumping going on in your center. You could be old or you could be young, but there's no denying that you're right here at this very second and such a realization can be staggering.