Joy Riding

The Deli Philly's July Record of the Month: You're So Smart - Joy Riding

Part pop punk, part emo revival - Joy Riding's debut full-length, You're So Smart, is a suitable pick-me-up for the summer/life, in general. Released last month by Black Rd Records, the band’s 10-track slew of anthems will most definitely make you nostalgic for indie greats like Hey Mercedes and Saves the Day, while still managing to be inventive.

The cynical romantics of the album's opener, much like Brand New's "Mixtape" or Weezer's problematic yet beloved "El Scorcho," couple disdain with unfettered feelings and tangible hope. A more tempered musing on longing than what Joy Riding’s predecessors offered in the early aughts, “Golden” is frank but endearing, two elements which make the track memorable long before its end. “Suzie Lynn” starts with buzzing notes and finessed reverb, evolving quickly into an ode for a hesitant sweetheart. Reminiscent of Relient K at their best or Kenny Vasoli circa 2002, You’re So Smart’s second track is brooding, lush, and self-aware, offering its audience a vivid portrait of plausible intimacy before its frenzied start or inevitable demise which is quickly followed by the synth filled thrill of “Different Shapes.” Tastefully retro and awash in guitar, shimmering cymbals, and a New Wave worthy backbeat, Joy Riding’s third offering is difficult not to love. When lead vocalist Joseph Ryans croons, “You fall in love every single day/You’ve got a lot of things you want to say to me,” it feels like an invitation to wear your heart on your sleeve. The album's title track is a sentimental yet satisfying ballad bound to bring to mind early cuts by The Get Up Kids or Copeland. Perhaps a bit more jaded than “Different Shapes” and “Suzie Lynn,” “You’re So Smart” excavates the existential root of desire with lines like - “They say love, it never becomes fun/until you swallow every bitter pill and let it go to hell” and by asking “Are we just too far gone?”

“Cool Band” examines the difference between authenticity and pretension, along with the pitfalls of curating one’s personal pain for the sake of an audience. The sweeping riffs and textured vocals of “For Jessica” are filled with urgency and a latent promise of autonomy, which is fully realized mid-song, when Ryans sings, “You just left him for dead… You just left and laughed him off.” However, with “For Jessica,” the band celebrates the way that distance can lead to closure and a fresh start in the wake of a romance’s end, while the electronic bleep and heartwarming chords of “Hail Mary” will make you either think about the bae that got away or the bae you're currently with. It’s a fervent prayer for lovers who believe in second chances. Like a less dreary rendition of Death Cab For Cutie’s “Title Track,” the following track, “Tarrytown,” makes the most of atmosphere with the staccato click of drum sticks and subtle snare. It’s similarly cinematic, offering itself as a ready-made soundtrack for drives at dusk or boozy nights spent willingly or unwillingly alone. The song’s narrative is familiar yet hopeful in a believably bearable way. Although not as optimistic as the preceding track, “Marie & Me” is admirably brazen and melodic. Between astute observations and demands, its narrator highlights the benefits of boundaries and letting things go, which are two of the many themes that bleed into the album’s finale, “Grad School,” a well-chosen end to a nearly faultless album. You’re So Smart’s closer is a meditation on friendship, transitions, and endings. Like an audible embodiment of memento mori, “Grad School” urges listeners that “You can’t win if you don’t try.”

From start to finish, Joy Riding’s LP is an introspective celebration of intimacy, new beginnings, and the psyche’s shortcomings without melodrama or overt misogyny. One can only wonder how pop punk and emo would have evolved the first time around if more bands were as earnest as this. - Dianca London


New Joy Riding LP Available for Streaming & Purchase

Joy Riding recently shared their full-length debut You’re So Smart, which is now available via Black Rd Records. With an inside view on storylines, the band delivers thoughtful, steadily-paced power-pop with a calming, melodic precision. The quintet unifies those even-keeled, personal tones with an energetic uplifting appeal. Joy Riding will be celebrating its arrival with a record release show on Friday, June 16 at Johnny Brenda's, where they'll be supported by Sad Actor and Aspiga. (Photo by John Helmuth)


New Track: "Grad School" (alt. version) - Joy Riding

In continuing support for the ACLU, Joy Riding released an alternate version to "Grad School," a song which will be featured on their forthcoming full-length album, due out this spring. Coupling opposing lyrical ideals versus realities, the track tackles the obstacles of adulthood. Steadied by the pop and bump of rhythm and the subtle electric charge of guitar, the words echo, bouncing off the inner mind while the daily page turns. It’s an isolating recollection of where one is - relative to their dreams.


Joy Riding Opening for Matt Pond PA at Underground Arts Dec. 9

While we await its full-length debut, which will be coming out early next year via Black Rd Records, the quartet of Joy Riding sets up shop in an opening slot this evening at Underground Arts. The band stacks up casually relatable, episodic powerpop, the type that steadily gathers melodic steam and concentration. Then, those loose sensitive strings unite in an infectious, surprising, instrumental feat of strength, cruising as the trees race by. In support of their newly released album, Winter Lives, Matt Pond PA headlines, striking a hearth-crackling note as singer-songwriter sensibility deepens through the exploratory interlacing of vocal harmony and guiding orchestral instrumentation. The multifaceted musical settings of Austin’s Moving Panoramas are sandwiched in between, tying the familiarity of intimate melody, while shifting into the atmosphere. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 9pm, $17, 21+ (Photo by Tom Ryan) - Michael Colavita


Video Premiere: "Suzie Lynn" - Joy Riding

Joy Riding pay homage to a flaxen-haired, Strong Man sideline reporter in the video for “Suzie Lynn,” found on the quartet’s forthcoming album You’re So Smart. A montage of humorous (in hindsight) but intense (in the moment) competition footage filters across the screen as the power-pop ode is littered with 80’s nostalgia, including its futuristic yet simple credit sequence. The video was playfully edited by Jeffery John Massino. Joy Riding are slated to perform at Bourbon & Branch, alongside The Only Ghost in Town & Sad Juror, on November 16, and they were just added to the December 9th bill at Underground Arts with Matt Pond PA.