California’s Toys That Kill and Joyce Manor are not kidding us; the two punk rock groups make the ideal match. They’re putting out a four-track split EP next month, and it showcases the ways in which they both simultaneously tend toward rawness and intimacy, revealing hard feelings in a scathing manner.
Joyce Manor’s “Tame” is anything but, and thank goodness for that—they’ve kept their revved-up pop punk sound with its uptempo smattering of bright guitars and crashing cymbals. The song is a minute and a half of frustrated intimations from the voice of someone who’s been spending all his time watching TV, playing on the couch, staring at the wall. Barry Johnson’s vocals are at their most emotive, backed by a lower harmony that’s especially moving when the ringing of the guitars is muted for a second. Their sincerity is fitting for the introduction of an element of longing that extends beyond the self-deprecation. This is really a love song disguised in lethargy, and it concludes on the tender line, “Come into my arms because I want you / can’t you tell at all?”
“Times We Can’t Let Go” is the perfect complement to that. Toys That Kills’ track is more bluntly intimate, touching on times spent alone with someone who’s been around for a while but, the lyrics suggest, is already on their way out. It’s got a classic punk rock feel that hearkens back to the sunnier Ramones tracks and adds in some jangly guitar riffs and fuzzy, bright bass. The driving start-and-stop of the rhythm guitar and percussion keeps us on our toes, with each lurch more pronounced than the last, while the energy is packed so tightly into these two minutes that when the track ends, you can still feel it hanging around in the air.
The Joyce Major / Toys That Kill Split EP will be out December 9 through Recess Records and the two bands will be touring the West Coast together just a few days later.
Joyce Manor / Toys That Kill December Tour Dates:
12 Camarillo, CA – Rock City
13 Sacramento, CA – Midtown Barfly
15 Seattle, WA – Vera Project
16 Vancouver, BC – Koran Hall
17 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
19 & 20 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill