The Dull Joys is based out of Melbourne, Australia, which is about as far from the Wild West as one can be. But somehow the four-piece, combining their wide and varied musical interests, captured the atmosphere of dusty Westerns perfectly while letting it bleed into other genres from time to time.
The Western label is nailed hard with the opening of “Under Your Dress” and its tremolo-picking intro. It gallops and bounces, slowing the pace only for a more modern solo at the bridge. Hints of fusion continue throughout the EP's short runtime.
The instrumental “Cole Wilson” moves on a rockabilly sway, overridden at times by a stream of spiraling single notes, climbing up to a strange psychedelic ride into wavering, spacious chords. “Cry Baby” rings with the air of an ominous shootout before echoing slides take the song into surreal territory. It's obvious the Dull Joys know what they are doing in terms of structures. Even at their loosest (which for my money would be “Cry Baby”) it still feels like everything is clicking together like it should.
As much as I like the weirdness of it all (and I really, really do), I do have to take issue with how everything is mixed. Guitars are on top of everything else, so much so that the more complex the lead becomes the more muddied and difficult it is to make out the vocals clearly. Perhaps this was a deliberate choice (it does add to the strangeness of it all), but I personally found it a bit distracting.
At times the inflection and delivery hint at genuine story telling, with shifting mood and emotions, but to make out precisely what these stories are requires a closer ear than mine. This is most notable with “Under Your Dress,” where a line about wanting a warm place to hide under someone's dress comes closest to the song's surface while the rest lingers somewhere beneath. Comparatively, the sparse “Passing Time” is much easier to follow.
At the end of the day these tracks are home recordings and can be forgiven for being rough around the edges. But the musicianship contained within and the resulting genre hodgepodges are a treat to experience.
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