Dr. Joy brings together two forces of psychedelia from over the Canadian border – high gloss quartet Mr. Joy and RSTB fave Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (Sacred Lamp, Stonegrass, The Cosmic Range). While Dunn’s solo work has sailed on an autumnal breeze of ‘70s singer-songwriter shades of late, elsewhere his guitar lends a singed creosote crunch to recordings. As these forces collide on Dr. Joy’s eponymous LP, the pillowy psych of Mr. Joy is treated to some of that very same smolder, stretching the band’s sound into headier directions. What becomes quite clear after a few listens through the record is that it’s a hard platter to parse. The tapestry here is all one interwoven idea that finds the band spreading out through sun-tanned folk splendor, Caravanserai-curls of psych, and a propulsive wave of prog fusion that puts this one in line with tranced dancefloors as often as headphone bliss.
The first half of the record is all build, lounging poolside and waiting for that sun to dip past the horizon. Despite its Northern roots, the record captures quite a West Coast feeling of sun-baked indulgence. As the second side kicks in the temperature drops, the neon flickers, and a breeze blows in with a sent of salt in the air and aching anticipation. The record is fluid, tumbling atmospherically at times. Synths tie the tale together, foaming and frothing, obfuscating everything in a light gauze. While only a few tracks really utilize a traditional vocal, the band delights in the disembodied voice — losing themselves in their own haze and calling out from the caverns of sound they’ve created. There are quite a few contenders that have sought to capture fine line between disco, prog, and pop, but more often than not they’ve ditched the experimental impulses of the first two in service to the last. Here the balance is struck, Dr. Joy have created a psych-pop gem that puts the emphasis on headiness over hooks every time and it leaves a bigger imprint as a result.
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