Album review: Spanish Love Songs – No Joy

U.S. punk quintet Spanish Love Songs seek out positivity amid darkness on their most accessible album yet…

Album review: Spanish Love Songs – No Joy
Olly Thomas

A crushing sense of dread and anxiety has long fuelled the songbook of Spanish Love Songs frontman Dylan Slocum. Painstakingly honest lyricism and rousing punk rock tunes have helped his band to steadily grow in popularity over the last eight years, but this fourth album shows that they’re still capable of surprises.

The most immediately striking change may disappoint those expecting another album of gruff melodi-core in the vein of The Menzingers or Jawbreaker. Right from the start of opener Lifers, with its shimmering synths and sparkling production sheen, it’s clear that Spanish Love Songs are now operating closer to the drivetime alt.rock of The Killers than any of their former contemporaries. This new direction was partly heralded by Brave Faces Etc, their post-lockdown reimagining of 2020’s third album Brave Faces Everyone, and it’s undeniable that it sets them up for much broader appeal, really bringing out their anthemic nature in a way that often gestures in the direction of Springsteen.

The other significant development is subtler, but no less crucial to No Joy: a sense that Dylan is now actively looking for a silver lining. That’s not to say that things aren’t still pretty mordant, given that Marvel, one of the most uplifting songs here, is based on a lyrical refrain of ‘Stay alive out of spite.’ But if life is still depicted largely as a struggle against despair, these songs nevertheless suggest that small moments of happiness can be found amongst the darkness.

If the message of No Joy is ultimately one of perseverance, it’s fitting that this is an album which seems set to grant its creators a new lease of life.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: The Gaslight Anthem, Citizen, Jimmy Eat World

No Joy is released on August 25 via Pure Noise

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?