Share the Joy finds the trio - guitarist/ vocalist Cassie Ramone, bassist/vocalist Kickball Katy and new drummer Fiona Campbell-continuing to evolve and expand, building on the D.I.Y. achievements of their 2008 debut Vivian Girls and its 2009 follow-up Everything Goes Wrong while delivering their most memorable songs and most focused performances yet. Their new tunes successfully venture into challenging new musical and lyrical territory, reflecting the band members' developing instrumental rapport and their far-reaching musical influences, while retaining the raw immediacy that originally endeared the group to its fans.
"It's cleaner and more hi-fi than the previous records," Cassie says of Share the Joy, which the band recorded at Rear House, the home studio run by Jarvis Taveniere (of the Brooklyn combo Woods), who engineered the album. "The sound is more open, more free. I think that this album really shows our strengths as musicians, and shows us melding together musically. It's more psychedelic and less shoegaze. There's also a lot of organ on it, which is new for us."
Share the Joy's musical and emotional depth is reflected on "The Other Girls" and "Light In Your Eyes," each of which clocks in at over six minutes. The former tune manages to encompass hammering hardcore, Beach Boys-esque melodic bliss, Neil Young/Nirvana-inflected guitar frenzy and ethereal harmonic drone, while the latter closes the album on a triumphant note of surging sonic uplift. Elsewhere, "Dance If You Wanna" and "Take it As It Comes" rank with the band's most intoxicating pop confections, while "Lake House" and "Vanishing of Time" maintain a thoughtful, introspective tone that may come as a surprise to those who'd had Vivian Girls pegged as a lo-fi garage outfit.
The new songs' openhearted diversity justifies Share the Joy's unironic title. Cassie borrowed it from a tune by Burt Bacharach, one of her biggest songwriting influences, which appeared on Bacharach and Hal David's ill-fated '70s musical version of Lost Horizon. "I was reading a book about him and I noticed the title 'Share The Joy,' and the blurb about the song said that it had'one of his most haunting melodies,'" Cassie explains. "I immediately thought that was so interesting-a deeply haunting song called 'Share The Joy.' I hunted the song down and listened to it and totally fell in love.
"Share the Joy has the most diverse batch of songs of any of our albums," Cassie observes. "I feel like these songs are more expansive; a lot of the themes and lyrics are less direct than other albums. These songs focus a lot on the themes of alienation, reconciliation, identity, and trying to figure out what really matters in life. It's a dark album, but unlike our first two albums, it has a happy ending.
"Our music continues to get more and more defined and developed, but it's never going to be completely polished," Cassie asserts, adding, "A thing I like about our band is that we seem to mean different things to different people. Another thing I'm proud of is that, while a lot of people may have initially heard about us through internet buzz and things like that, I think our audience likes our music because it's honest and because we mean it. I think that people can pick up on that."