Essential New Music: Joys Union Group’s “Boredom Euphoria”

The impatient may read the name of this LP and ask, “Well, which will it be?” How does one reconcile boredom and euphoria? Hold your horses. Surely, we’ve all learned a bit about that in the last couple years. Once you have subdued your fidgety self, you can consider the strategy proposed by Joys Union Group’s combination of vintage electric jazz, cassette-era new age, analog art rock (Germanic division) and homegrown indie twang. Do not to rely too much on any one element; instead, break it all down into parts that are big enough retain an identifiable flavor, but are easy to stir together.

This method may reflect the instrumental combo’s diverse membership. Neil Lord, Michael C. Sharp and Dailey Toliver—whose associations encompass Future Museums, Sungod and chanteuse Molly Burch’s backing band—are all multi-instrumentalists. Flute player Kristine Reaume is the only specialist, which may explain why she asserts a defining influence on the music whenever her amply echoed instrument moves into the front line. Otherwise, reverb takes precedence over individual personality as Joys Union Group tosses together pithy guitar leads, plush keyboard sounds and propulsive percussion into chunky stylistic salads.

The title track (which, truth be told, sounds more euphoric than bored) could be mid-’70s jazz fusion, if fusion had decided to forego displays of ego in favor of dubby effects. “Portrero” could be Popol Vuh’s lost foray into Americana. And “Laughter In The Sky” could be a Maui-bound yacht rocker; although with windblown flute to the fore and no vocals, it turns into something less mundane and more joyous.

With the price of gas and the stress of flying being what they are, you may already be rethinking your travel plans. Put up your feet, and let Boredom Euphoria be your staycation soundtrack.

—Bill Meyer