Little Joy have the perfect name; their eponymous debut is the sweetest pop gem you will hear this winter. Strokes’ drummer Fabrizio Moretti has moved from grimy, belligerent New York to hazy, laid back California, from where he makes frequent trips to Hawaii. Echoing stripped down ’60s pop, chilled out guitar rock and surf music, Little Joy consists largely of simple melodies and stunningly clever barbershop-style harmonies.
Opening the album with a ukulele, -The Next Time Around’ is straight from beaches of Honolulu. Instantly catchy, -Brand New Start’ will have you singing along for the rest of the day. Rodrigo Amarante, currently on hiatus from Los Hermanos, sings with a breezy croon, straining most marvellously on the lo-fi lament -With Strangers’. Binki Shapiro makes up the trio, playing guitar, glockenspiel and percussion. Her voice is clarinet-like, warm, jazzy and lispy, adding texture and contrast through her harmonies without exercising a huge range. Binki takes lead on a couple of tracks, most beautifully on -Don’t Watch Me Dancing’, a slow jam with particularly lovely backing vocals from the boys, building to a sublime string and horns piece.
The reggae/afro vibes of -No One’s Better Sake’ could be Vampire Weekend had they enrolled in UCLA as opposed to Columbia. Then there’s the sun-kissed -Keep Me In Mind’, the NYC-influenced -How To Hang A Warhol’ and the Brazilian folk ballad, -Evaporar’. Listen closely and you’ll hear gentle lapping waves and the rustle of palm trees swaying in a warm breeze.