The Regrettes’ sophomore album – garage rock inspired How Do You Love? – was released in the second half of 2019, but for obvious reasons the following year meant a prolonged period of separation for the band.
Finally reconvening, twelve months later and out in the Californian desert, Further Joy became the scrapbook for a year’s worth of introspection and upheaval. For frontwoman Lydia Night, this album was also an opportunity to outgrow their earlier, riot grrrl informed sound. The sonic foray into summer-infused pop hasn’t washed away the candid honesty of The Regrettes’ lyrics, though; in fact, they’re even more personal the third time around. With a Ryn Weaver-esque melody that defies the darker subject material, their opening track “Anxieties (Out of Time)” tackles Night’s experiences with anxiety head-on, before tumbling into an exploration of existential crises and mental health on “Monday”.
From anxiety, to recurrent body dysmorphia on “Subtleties (Never Giving Up On You)”, and an apprehensive treatment of sexuality on “You’re So Fucking Pretty”, the lyrical themes on Further Joy remain at odds with its chirpy production, but this is very much in keeping with Night’s commitment to “dancing the pain away” (and after the last few years, it’s a pretty solid prescription).
The resounding message of this album is a hopeful one, acknowledging but refusing to be drowned by life’s curveballs. The record also explores the well-trodden path of past loves turned sour, as well as Night’s self-conscious effort not to sabotage her current relationship. “I was in a dark anxious place and realised that I was becoming very critical of my partner,” she’s explained. “I got out of that place by realising, ‘I love this person for exactly who they are, and nothing needs to change about who they are or who I am to make each other happy.’”
The Regrettes already seem pretty at home in their new soundscape, roaming between stripped-back guitars and fully-fledged pop. Choosing to drink from the glass half full, Further Joy is an album that takes stock of life’s problems and does its best to tint them in rose.