Tired of cycling through a never-ending quest for happiness, The Regrettes choose to embrace the simple beauties of the here and now. On their album Further Joy, released April 8, they celebrate the good, the bad and the ambivalent with charming candor, coating heavy subjects in rosy bliss.
The band, composed of Lydia Night, Genessa Gariano, Brooke Dickson and Drew Thomsen, made a name for itself in pop, punk and everything in between with a youthful, genre-traversing sound. Since the release of their 2017 debut Feel Your Feelings Fool!, The Regrettes have ascended with unapologetic force, unabashed candor and riot grrrl flair. Now, three years and a pandemic since their last full-length album, The Regrettes are back with their most mature, iridescent release to date.
Further Joy opens with the understated meditations of “Anxieties (Out of Time),” which reflects on the all-too-familiar ennui of crossing the threshold from adolescence to adulthood. Over a fuzzy blend of base and electronics, Night’s soprano hangs in delicate suspense before breaking into a crystalline belt. “Knock me down down up back down/ Knock me down I won’t back down,” she sings, resilience emerging from apprehensive fog. Though her lyrics suffocate under the weight of anxiety, she continues fighting for air, and each victorious exhale yields pure melodic beauty.
Existential dread weaves through the album, but rather than getting tangled in its ubiquity, The Regrettes transform it into something beautiful. “Monday” picks up where the opening track left off, sketching a mundane existence with poppy catharsis. Night’s warped vocals form a repetitive staccato over the bridge and chorus, both catchy and disorienting in their effect. Though not unlike The Regrettes’ previous work, the subject matter of Further Joy glimmers in new light when transmuted through the structures of popular music.
Throughout the album, The Regrettes demonstrate lyrical mastery, lending complexity to captivating melodies. Night’s glassy vocals explore unrequited love and fluid sexuality on the quiet, piano-backed “You’re So Fucking Pretty.” “You give a little and I fall just a little too much,” she sings, lyrics brilliantly mirroring the emotional push and pull. More elusive in its delivery, “Barely on My Mind” revels in strange juxtapositions, catching listeners in a compelling whiplash. As the track circles through Oakland graveyards and bedrooms ablaze, it begs to be put on repeat.
Further Joy is not about finding the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s about breaking free from darkness and dancing through the pain. Self-advocacy abounds on the upbeat “Step 9,” while Night’s breathy head voice paints all blushy pink on “Rosy.” “La Di Da” brushes off anxious spells with simple, carefree singing and a trumpet interlude. Starting slow, “Show Me You Want Me” blossoms into a colorful embrace of love and desire. Even as The Regrettes sink into disquieted depths, their music feels fit for rolling the car windows down and basking in a sweet, sun-soaked escape.
On the record’s penultimate track “Nowhere,” The Regrettes offer their most honest reflection on fame and happiness, speaking to lasting discontent and continued desire. Her voice taut and on the edge of a break, Night yells, “I’m just a cynical believer/ Can I just be here?” Straddling pop and punk, the song reflects The Regrettes’ unique, evolving sound, and it also harkens back to the album’s namesake. Rather than constantly chasing further joy in a static, augmented loop, The Regrettes choose to embrace where they are. The result is palpably beautiful and undeniably real.
Riding off of their pre-pandemic success, The Regrettes bubble with buoyant bliss on Further Joy. Masterfully maneuvering through poppy, upbeat melodies, they never fully relinquish the spirit of punk that pulses through their veins. Rather, they marry discontent with danceable rhythms — existential dread with expressive release. Instead of becoming mired in anxiety, they put on their rosy glasses and watch as the world turns a sanguine shade of pink.