When My Disco’s first effort, Cancer was released a couple of years back I wasn’t quite sure what the hype was about. The band has long been disciples of Albini and his harsh minimalism (which is great inspiration as far as I’m concerned), in fact their name comes from a Big Black tune. This first long player was even produced by Neil Marshall of Ricaine, another absolutely awesome, but long defunct Albini-esque band from the 90s. The My Disco sound is all about taught rhythms, sharp guitars, spoken word vocals and DIY ethics. The Mark of Cain come to mind as well.
But when Cancer’s follow up, Paradise hit the shelves I was instantly curious about the music hiding behind that way-out cover art; the trio dressed in shiny black capes and leggings, perched birdlike on a rocky peak in the Cooper Pedy desert, which looks distinctly like Mars. It sounds comedic but the scene is actually bizarre enough to work. It was instantly obvious this was a different band, and with Steve Albini on production duties the music itself had become sharp, minimal, cold and alien. Some songs revolved around little more than two notes, a kick drum and a spoken phrase; tranquillity in repetition.
My Disco have made that same leap on Little Joy. This time around, Albini has guided the band into a sound less abrasive but no less minimal. The guitars don’t stab any more; instead they chime discordantly, hypnotising the listener with subtle nuances like the best of harsh noise. Rhythmically everything is much more loose and Jazz infused, in fact the drums have become the main character on Little Joy, with a number of tracks reducing themselves down to extended passages of rolling rhythm. Guitars and bass take a back seat here, which is a natural step in the evolution of My Disco; Cancer concentrated on rubbery, post punk bass lines and Paradise was all about Ben Andrews tearing glassy splinters of feedback and distortion from his guitar. It’s only logical that the drums are given free reign on Little Joy, but don’t expect stadium rock drum solos. Rohan Rebiero takes a minimalist approach to his kit, creating atmosphere, tension and release. Dude is amazing on the skins.
Little Joy is My Disco’s most confident release to-date and a great example of a band constantly willing to evolve. Each release has seen them take the essence of Albini’s sound world and move further and further away from it. They’re no longer his disciples they’re his fucking peers now, and that’s a big call, I know. The album as a whole never feels like it’s 51 minutes long, nor do its longest tracks, some of which stretch out past the ten minute mark (and rarely stray from one or two core concepts). There are few other Australian bands making music this exciting right now.