Steeped in folk-rock tradition and powered by the intuitive creative connection between Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar), the songs on Mt. Joy's eponymous debut depict the former wrestling with his own conscience, where the mundane and the fantastic collide as he processes tragedy, society, and love.
Opener "I'm Your Wreck" describes "monsters in (the) closet, using up the wi-fi" as it cycles from its desperate, spiraling verses to its swinging, stubbornly optimistic coda, while the loping, plaintive chords of "Younger Days" meditate on a frayed psyche and the fear of choosing the wrong path. "Sheep," with its collapsing, hoarse-voiced cry of "freedom was paid in blood," is a post-Trump salvo on the responsibilities of the fortunate to overcome political and social despondency. "Astrovan" is a warm, yearning bit of road-trip philosophy that posits the existence of a Deadhead Jesus cruising the dusty highways of the countryside. And on "Silver Lining," perhaps the album's brightest moment, Quinn surveys the damage of hard drugs and the vicious cycle of addiction, as the song's melancholic sentiment kicks into its fervid, defiant chorus, all shout-along vocals and trilling guitars.
Taken together, the LP is a startlingly open document, wracked with the anxieties and fears that come just as life seems to start working out. It's a natural reaction from a wary band like Mt. Joy - the result of a sort of professional vertigo, as they've gone from virtual unknowns to hot young commodity in little over a year. But there's a sense of hope underlying everything, girded by the fact that the album is an impressive, honest portrayal of a young band facing that moment where dreams become reality, and finding beauty in the exhilarating uncertainty of it all.