Just in time for April Fool’s Day, London-based, odd-popster band Joey Fourr will release its debut full-length, To The Floorr, on MÏLK Records. The trio Joey Fourr is the brainchild of Joseph Prendergast (former singer of Tubelord) and is also composed of Moe Meade and Jack Barraclough. The band formed in 2012 and has dropped a whopping 11 EPs on all sorts of indie labels prior to this album. The overall artistic aesthetic of the band is one of nonchalant enjoyment and doing “whatever feels good” (as stated on Joey Fourr’s SoundCloud page). The twelve tracks on To The Floorr carry on in this insouciant manner, diving with a carefree ease into sexually suggestive to overripe dialogue that casually accepts gender-amorphous relationships and various sexual acts and, somewhere in there, love too.
Joseph is placed front ‘n’ center on the recording (vocally) and in the video for the lead single “My Dolphins” (visually). Images of Joseph’s pastel rainbow-colored hair and fingernails, the deliberate misspelling of words like ‘debutt album’ (which, actually, is quite fitting considering the album’s cover ‘art’), “Luv In the Mornin”, and ‘Lief’ instead of ‘life’, and pix of strawberry ice cream and Pop Tarts at the band’s official sites makes it difficult to take what Joey Fourr is proffering that seriously – and that’s probably how the band members want it. Like they write on their Facebook Bio, they’re ‘Forever Weird’. Luckily, the songs themselves on To The Floorr are not so out-there as to not be understandable or somewhat relatable.
All the tracks run around the three-minute-mark or under, are loaded with chunks of tasty goodness… I mean, are full of catchy hooks sections, and radiate a laid-back, feel-good vibe. On the downside, they are also all constructed out of the same or similar instrumental elements, like a prominent bass line, 80s New Wave guitar sounds, and tapped/clacked percussion/beats, so instrumentally there isn’t much variation. Guitar and drum motifs are kept relatively simple and repetitive, along with certain short-phrase lyrical refrains.
On the ‘dirty’ whole, To The Floorr is mildly amusing/pleasing and momentarily diverting, with Joseph exuding an off-hand, disarming charm, but it takes effort to pay attention to the lyrics that sometimes get buried in the mix. In his own words, Joseph “plays it cool” on album-opener and lead single “My Dolphins”, amid a snapped-fingers and plunked-piano notes beat and subtly funky bass line. Listeners may start scratching their heads in bemused puzzlement at lyrics like “Playing baseball with my dolphins / underwater… / scored a homerun…”, unless this song is swimming in sexual innuendos that are too cryptic to these ears…
“Gold Boy” is dripping in sexual-speak, except that it’s hard to hear it all because of Joseph’s lackadaisically sighing vocal delivery. Eighties guitar chime, a brisk beat, tocked wooden percussion, and an undercurrent of bass give the tune an exotic feel as Joseph sings lightly about “sticky fingers”, “pull the zipper down”, and “lick your lips”. Second single, “Dirty Hole”, relies too much on cuckoo-clock repetitive, warped guitar notes and a wordless “Oooh, wee, oooh-ooh” refrain. Joseph sounds zoned out as he intones “I’m staying in / It’s a Friday night” against sparkling cymbal hits, interjecting a shouted out “One more time!”, even though there’s no need for more repetition on this song.
Joseph sing-talks in staccato mode on “Mickey”, delving into gender identity issues matter-of-factly (and not for shock value, one assumes), stating “Who could believe / she could look so fine / when she is a he in real life…”. The crisp drum beat, running bass line, and bright, reverb guitar notes again make this song feel like a throwback from the 80s – in a good way. There’s even a little found sound clip of a guy exclaiming “Bring the beat back!” “Luv in the Mornin” is warm ‘n’ fuzzy and features hazy, dazed vocals from Joseph and a female guest vocalist who backs his words. There are several songs on the album that factor in female vocals, but they are usually shadowing Joseph’s lines and aren’t that well defined.
Album-standout “Believer” is a serious anomaly amid the odd-pop fun and it shows a facet of Joey Fourr that should be explored more in the future if the band wants to grow artistically. Fluid guitar lines, a solid drum beat, sporadic cymbal shimmer, and a thrumming bass line form a bed that Joseph (or a guest artist?!) lays down his shifted-to-low-tone vocals onto. He draws out the bleak lyrics “Shake your money / Shake it all / You’re a sole believer / You’ll be dead before you know” while supported by female vocals and the slow, sober pace. In a direct inversion to the manic antics of Blur’s in-yer-face “Girls And Boys”, Joey Fourr finishes off the album with the blasé statement-of-fact “Boys II Girls”. Joseph sings, not for kicks, but just because it’s the way it is (again, one assumes), that “I want to get with you / I want to get with him tonight” amid little riffles of guitar, a briefly smacked drum beat, and the ever-present bass line.