Brexit worries? Can’t sleep? The recurring nightmare that this country is run by lipless toffs?
Fear not. Into that febrile breach step the Essex music collective The Joy of Living with their latest eponymously titled offering. To be clear, this is the trio comprising Tammay (vocals), Geoff (drums/percussion) and David (bass, guitar, keyboards, effects), rather than some oblique reference to the 1961 film comedy of the same name.
It’s a beautiful record, in every sense. The soundscaped idyll of ‘Fantastic Return’ and ‘Summersong’, the quiet rumination of ‘A Murmured Life’, replete with an accompanying video, filmed on a medieval causeway off the coast of Essex called ‘The Broomway’. The visuals are suitably weird, given that they’re filmed on what is apparently the most dangerous path in England, on account of its susceptibility to fog on a rising tide and perhaps more worryingly being a public footpath that crosses an M.O.D. firing range!
But for true modernists, with that legendary attention to detail, there are other aesthetic pleasures to be had here. Bespoke 180 gram vinyl, gatefold sleeves, artwork supplied by prominent UK artist and writer, Stanley Donwood, who incidentally also appears as a giant Hare in the video. Limited edition too, each signed and numbered by the artist himself. (Mine’s number 12). And it feels heavy, gorgeously heavy, carrying the weight of that fog, or perhaps the guns, or better still the electronic folk/soul of the flatlands. Something, anyway, to remind you that this is not T.O.W.I.E.
The Joy of Living emerge from that other Essex, the crowded musical heartland which can lay claim to such diverse talents amongst others as Dr Feelgood, Crass, Andy C, The Tremeloes, Depeche Mode and Ian Dury (who wasn’t even from Essex, but pretended to be from Upminster anyway). There’s no vajazzling here, just a reminder that simple pleasures navigate by different stars. So do yourself a favour, and get hold of this record, rather than what Grange Hill’s Gripper Stebson once famously termed ‘your public regions’.