Album review: The Regrettes – Further Joy

Anxiety, self love and dancefloor bangers: The Regrettes leave the garage behind on third album…

Album review: The Regrettes – Further Joy
James MacKinnon

Where’s the happiness that I thought I’d feel today?’ wonders Lydia Night on Nowhere. ’Wait! Where’s the million people that all know my name?’ In one form or another, The Regrettes singer has been on the road making music since her early teens. Where that road was going seemed pretty clear following the giddy reception to 2019’s How Do You Love?, until COVID-19 set up a pandemic-sized roadblock just as the LA quartet were set to pop.

By 2020’s first lockdown the band had already amassed enough new material to make another record anyway. None of those songs appear here on their third album, Further Joy. The Regrettes are different people now, in a way that will be familiar to many who took a long, uncomfortable look in the mirror over the past two years.

For Lydia, this meant facing up to some home truths, both positive (coming out as bisexual) and negative (anxiety attacks, wondering who the hell she was without a stage). Musically, too, she and her bandmates had breathing room to delve into ideas they might previously worried were too weird or not punk enough for their fans. In other words, The Regrettes grew up and stopped giving a fuck what people might think.

Further Joy is a record with a proud pop streak. It rocks, but The Regrettes are also drawing from the likes of Charli XCX and St. Vincent to flavour their cherry bomb punk. Lead single Monday is a small step, hitching choppy guitars and riotous ‘yeah yeah yeahs’ to a lush production. By contrast, Barely On My Mind is a giant leap into electro-pop. Pulsing synths and infectious beats surround Brooke Dickson’s prowling bassline, while Lydia sings coolly about turning the tables on a lover.

For the most part these audacious moves feel natural, but Further Joy still shows some growing pains. The cutesy La Di Da doesn't quite hit, while, Rosy is a simmering slice of pared-back funk that is begging for a more euphoric chorus.

When Further Joy gets it right, though, it's brilliant. You’re So Fucking Pretty nails both experimentation and emotion, a hazy piano-centred arrangement stirring sharp-edged memories in Lydia of a crush on a girl she couldn’t quite admit to herself. It’s the obvious showstopper here, but it would be criminal to pass over Show Me You Want Me, an ’80s pop rocker in a red convertible with sights set on the future. ‘You could break my heart,’ Lydia admits, you imagine with a shrug and a smile, ‘but that makes us alive.’

Perhaps more than ever, the LA big dreamers are living without regrets, taking chances while dancing with their fear. Even better, Further Joy points the way to better things ahead.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Paramore, Olivia Rodrigo, St. Vincent

Further Joy is out now via Warner

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