MXMJoY p.e.a.c.e. London Field Recordings
Maximum Joy emerged from the 1980s post-punk scene in Bristol, made famous by their revolutionary co-conspirator’s The Pop Group and Rip Rig+Panic. Produced by UK dub pioneers Adrian Sherwood and Dennis Bovell, the band never received the same level of fame as their cohorts.
But those early records have aged well and picked up new generations of fans thanks to the Discogs era. After reforming in 2015 for a handful of gigs, band members Janine Rainforth and Charlie Llewellin are back with a new name and new record.
Their trademark “funk-punk” sound lives on in this album, which draws on a host of stabby bass guitar grooves as well as the kind of shimmering synths you might hear in house music. But the world feels like a more complicated and volatile place in p.e.a.c.e compared to Rainforth and Llewellin’s earlier 80s vision, which is distinctly more optimistic. Lyrics like “How can we keep hope when there’s no hope to be found” are delivered with sliding, airy vocals, lending a spooky quality to the tracks, like a ghost slipping in and out between worlds. Yet Rainforth’s words aren’t condemning as much as they are pragmatic. “We can’t run/ we can’t hide from this history,” she sings in We Breathe to a backdrop of moody, monotonous beats.
But the free-spirited optimism associated with the band’s early days is not completely diminished and Rainforth’s dictum to “feel the love” in Slipping Down feels not so much a suggestion but a demand. Sung to crunchy dancehall drums, the track feels like a celebration of togetherness. Perhaps MXMJoy have chosen this album as an opportunity to reference the current Brexit landscape, or a more general state of entropy. One thing is sure: the pair want change and they want it now.