The power of music is in the connections we form with songs. My favorite songs are a soundtrack for my personal narrative — a way to remember people and events: my friends at the Cardinal, for instance. I would never have known of Mt. Joy had it not been for my first co-editor.
On June 17, Mt. Joy released their third studio album “Orange Blood.” When I first found out about the new album, I was ecstatic. After all, Mt. Joy reminds me of my best moments as an editor. New music meant I could relive those memories, while adding new memories from the present. The band released four out of ten songs as singles to promote their album. It felt like a lot at first, but each of the singles left me wanting more. By the time release day came, I was champing at the bit. The album did not disappoint.
The electric guitar is this album’s friend. Whether it’s the backbone or featured in a limited scope, the electric guitar is present in every track. Recent albums from my favorite bands have felt all over the place. They lack a clear sense of identity because the songs do not feel like they belong together. Thankfully, “Orange Blood” does not go down that path. Thanks to the electric guitar adding much appreciated grit to every track, the album is coherent.
The very first and last tracks of the album are slower paced, with tempo picking up in between. The first track of the album is the title song and one of the four singles. It’s the type of song to play in the background when in deep thought. The few lines of Portuguese are much welcomed. Portuguese is a beautiful language, and the lines add to the song’s heartfelt nature. The song induces a trance-like state in the last 45 seconds, with repetition and a crescendo. A fantastic song all around.
The last track of the album is the single “Bathroom Light.” In a similar vein to the title track, it is a song that inspires introspection. The electric guitar is subtly used here as part of the song’s stripped-down feel. My preference for power is what keeps it from being a favorite, but this song has room to grow on me.
There are a few tracks with amusing names like “Roly Poly,” which appears early. The song is short, only lasting two and a half minutes. Lead vocalist Matt Quinn displays great vocal range here to convey a sense of wistfulness. Quinn can’t shake the memory of a person he has lost. So the memory persists, like a roly poly in his brain.
There is another track titled “Bang” that isn’t a reference to the energy drink, or Mike Breen calling basketball games. Rather, it is a powerful song that uses repetition and passionate vocals to portray a decaying society. The angst in Matt Quinn’s voice and the slow drumming reminded me of the Lumineers. The song’s cathartic power is what made me fall in love with it.
Another song that made me think of the Lumineers due to how Quinn’s angsty vocals shine is “Ruins.” This song transported me to live performances at restaurants and bars. The song starts very slow, with the strumming of an acoustic guitar and gentle drumming. The electric guitar rears its head halfway through. Subtle at first, leading up to a heavenly solo that completes the metamorphosis of the song. The transformation is complete with about 45 seconds left, as the electric guitar takes over and the song has an injection of power.
“Johnson Song” also features a gorgeous guitar riff. You get a teaser of the guitarwork at the very beginning of the song. The chorus of the song is anthemic, with multiple vocalists providing a snapshot of how the song can sound live in a stadium. Then comes the gritty guitar solo, embodying what makes the album so good. “Ruins” and “Johnson Song” are my pick of the non-singles.
Another cathartic song in the album, “Don’t it Feel Good,” has a slow pace all the way through. When listening to this song for the first time, all I could think is that it’s a great song to celebrate digging out of a hole.
“Phenomenon” is the most unique sounding song. It reminds me a bit of Childish Gambino — particularly a few songs from “Awaken, My Love!” I could be way off. In any case, this is the one song that does not feel like it belongs with the rest. A groovy and enjoyable song still.
Moving onto my absolute favorites, we first have “Lemon Tree.” It was the first single released, so it got a lot of listening time. The number of listens has led to me associating the song with everything in life that mattered at the time. “Lemon Tree” was part of my internship search soundtrack. It blared in my ears last semester as I battled through tiring Tuesdays trudging to the Cardinal office. It marked an action project and a remarkable newspaper milestone. A song with such rich memories attached is hard to top. Of course, the song is excellent regardless of memories. The transition from slower paced to anthemic is marvelous.
My favorite song at the moment is the single “Evergreen.” It is the most consistently energetic song of the album. The music video for this song features Creed Bratton trying out new activities in life. Despite failing each time, he lives life to his fullest, eventually getting motivated to start his own band. I take inspiration from the music video. The lyrics of the song embrace the lack of control we possess over our lives. The last few years have been tough. Never before have I lacked control over life this way. But recently, some things have fallen into place, and sometimes that is all you need to believe again. Matters of love, friendship and being an adult — yikes — remain unresolved. But this song encourages me to enjoy my own company again and live life fully. As the lyrics of the song go, “But if I knew the way, life would be pointless.” In pure George Costanza fashion, I declare this “The Summer of Anupras.” This song will be my anthem all the way through. Here’s hoping I fare better than George.
Every song in this album is great. Your journey will differ from mine, but this is an album you will form connections with. … Enjoy the ride.