Call it post-punk, I guess if you don’t have anywhere else to put it, but if you really want to get to the core of what Little Joy is you would be better off looking at Oneida rather than The Killers. There is a heavy Krautrock /post-rock vibe going on with Little Joy, which works for, and against, this album it at times.
Little Joy is an interesting album, in that it is completely fine with repetition and constancy; more so than it is with actual experimentation and deviation. The minute you put on the opening track “Closer” be prepared for the same riff over the entire course of the song, and pretty much every other song on the album follows this austere philosophy. There is definitely a minimalist approach to this album, borrowing from a page of the Bush doctrine, “Stay the course”. The length of the songs come in all varieties – some between 2-3 minutes while others almost reach the “oh so proggy” 9 minute mark. The longer tracks almost seem like sonic endurance tests, seeing how long before you can complete the song in one sitting. Each track is splattered across the album with no sense of connectedness, which actually works in the albums favor simply because, if they weren’t, Little Joy would sound like one big song. The vocals and lyrics are of the drone variety, taking a step back only to accentuate the mesmerizing and hypnotic beats. The guitars remind me of that hum you hear when you drive by a power grid; a monotone, minimalist and sometimes shrill performance coupled with heavy distortion. It would not be a stretch to say the instrumental stylings would make Sonic Youth proud. The highlights would have to be the tempo shifting and appropriately titled “River”, the pulsating “Young”, and the vaguely classic 80‘s rock inspired “A Turreted Berg”.
The quick-to-bore will hate this album, but those looking for something to stew over for a while will surely love it. To me, albums fall into several different categories – there are those that are good for a one time listen, the classic can’t go a day without listening to it, and the play it every once in a while. Little Joy falls in the latter category, so don’t expect to pop this in and immediately start rocking out, as this is definitely a slow burner. For that matter, do not expect to play it everyday, you really have to settle into this sort of thing. Yes, some tracks really highlight the punk tendencies of the band but, for the most part, those looking to slam dance need look elsewhere. All in all I would highly recommend this to fans of Bloc Party, Wire, and Oneida.