Joy Opposites are a supremely interesting band, formed after the legendary post-hardcore act FACT disbanded with the only non-Japanese member of the band, Adam Graham, at the helm. Joy Opposites are now down to a two piece, with Imran Saddiqi formerly of The Amity Affliction rounding out the duo. After the incredible Find Hell from two years ago, new music from the band was certainly an exciting prospect, and now Bad Phase is here.
The EP name came from a discussion the two were having regarding the band, with Imran describing them going through a “Bad Phase.” Despite this, the band kick back into high gear as soon as the EP starts with “Holy Smoke.” The track beeps in with a sense of urgency, a bouncing and rolling electronic section brings us into Adam’s aggressive and frantic delivery. “I don’t think so, I don’t think so,” catches in the mind as the track beats down in-between calmer, brooding segments. There’s even a bit of guitar work towards the end reminiscent of a more post-hardcore sound, mixing quite well with their style.
The synthesizers and programmed drums the band experimented with on Find Hell make their way back in this EP, but they go deeper and explore more with what they can do. The second track, “Bad Phase,” is this dark, sonically ebbing and flowing piece that finds some fantastic earworm moments. The quiet, almost threatening and foreboding whispered lyrics, coming as almost a distant chant, elevate this track to an incredible place. Ending out the original tracks is “Whatevvver.” As the spelling of the track may imply, it has this drawn out style with the vocals that spikes with the guitars. This track feels like something that could have been on Swim, their debut album, though skewed in their new direction more. It’s a good track to space out to, bobbing your head along to the tide of urgency that runs in and out.
Ending the EP are four covers, four tracks that the band considers near their hearts. Covers of “Lovely” by Billie Eilish, “Weeds” by Life in Agony, “Down In A Hole” by Alice in Chains, and “Smoke Signals” by Phoebe Bridgers close out Bad Phase. It’s pretty great to hear Joy Opposites covering artists that have influenced them, and they’re quite competent and interesting takes on them, though they are a bit like a fun filler, with the 3 original tracks at the start coming as the most impressive side of this EP.
Concerning the topic of the tracks, Adam has decided to explore societal issues and the state of the world rather than the deeply personal and mental focus of their previous albums. On this shift Adam had to say: “Lyrically, these songs deal with societal issues more than personal ones. Both of us have been strongly affected by how the world is changing and how things are spiraling out of control… Honestly, it was quite a challenge for me to write about a certain subject rather than about a feeling since my lyrics are generally quite stream-of-consciousness, so this was something new.”
All in all, Bad Phase feels like a stepping stone in a way, but definitely not in a bad way. With the band coming down to two members, and considering their broad appreciation for music and flexible abilities, they’ve felt out a great fluctuation of their Find Hell brilliance to continue experimenting and bringing a dark atmosphere to well built and catchy alternative rock tunes. This release may even be the most post-hardcore leaning of the band’s, mixing the electronica and pounding rock with rises to an almost hardcore peak. Joy Opposites are a band to watch, ever impressing with their sound and style, I’m eagerly awaiting their next full length project in the vein of this EP.