by Philip Moss
The search for equilibrium in one’s self is a commonly used source of inspiration in songwriting. Holding a lamp up against their frailties and inhibitions can send writers off into further mines of doubt – but clarity isn’t always the goal, as Hannah Joy finds on her second outing as Middle Kids
Album opener, Bad Neighbours, is steeped in reflections, and acts as a mood setter – ‘Hope is an underrated word that I heard when I was younger before the anger. And the pain is like a rope around my hands.’ But this is not to say that Today We’re The Greatest is a series of moans or complaints. No – it is a set of songs that exemplify what it is like to persevere. To find strategies to loosen the ‘rope’ and release the ‘anger’. To face up to whatever your individual circumstance is, and work out your attempted escape plan.
Cellophane is wrapped in the same alt-rock meets pop maturity as Aaron Dessner’s recent work on Taylor Swift’s Folklore. Like Swift, the Sydney based songwriter examines lost loves – articulating her relatable feelings – ‘Are you afraid to stop and find the reasons why you can’t get away from it?’ Her voices acts as a mirror – encouraging the listener to slow down and take stock.
Trust issues come to the surface on the snappy Questions, the banjo backed Lost in Los Angeles finds Joy ‘wasted, hated, wasting away’ and at her lowest point. But by the title track, which closes the collection, the weight feels like it’s been somewhat lifted – as, over Beatles’ piano chords, she admits that things are not perfect, but she looks firmly ahead with optimism.
Hannah Joy may not necessarily find answers in the songs presented on Today We’re The Greatest, but her excavation makes for fascinating listening.
If you’d like to support us by subscribing to our zine, click here – it’s just £6 a year for four copies (inc p&p).