Since they formed in 2015, The Regrettes have always tried to disguise their pop influences. 2017’s debut ‘Feel Your Feelings Fool!’ was a fuzzy, riot grrrl-inspired record about teenage rebellion and young love, while 2019’s ‘How Do You Love?’ was a loose rock’n’roll break-up record. Both used scuzzy punk guitar to distract from just how big and radio-friendly those anthems were, with the band seemingly content making music for chaotic basement shows.
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New album ‘Further Joy’ betrays grander ambitions, though. From the chirpy nursery rhyme of opener ‘Anxieties (Out Of Time)’ to the fizzing ‘80s dance of ‘Show Me You Want Me’, the Los Angeles-based four-piece’s third album is a shiny pop album designed for big rooms and mass singalongs. As vocalist Lydia Night told NME around the release of swaggering single ‘Monday’: “For ages, I was worried about proving something to the 50-year-old dads at the back of the room.”
There’s not an ounce of that fear on ‘Further Joy’. Across the record’s energetic, ever-shifting 13 tracks, Night sings about anxiety, body dysmorphia, being head-over-heels in love, embracing her sexuality and the occasional existential crisis. It’s hectic – but so is living in 2022. Garage-punk throwback ‘Nowhere’ opens with a quote from poet Alan Watts (“You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now”) before tackling feelings of inadequacies fuelled by social media. The whole record is vulnerable, revealing and painfully relatable.
What it never is, though, is bleak. Night’s lyrics focus on growth and comfort, giving the whole record a real sense of empowerment. Musically, too, ‘Further Joy’ couldn’t be more upbeat if it came with its own parade. ‘Show Me You Want Me’ is The 1975 meets Madonna; ‘La Di Da’ is a groove-driven pop banger, full of confidence and purpose; while the glitching ‘Better Now’ is an energetic indie-rock gem.
Elsewhere, ‘That’s What Makes Me Love You’ pulls from the brilliantly warped pop of Paramore’s ‘After Laughter’ and the swaying ‘Homesick’, a track driven by love and longing, comes with the sort of passionate urgency found on Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’. The whole thing is designed to make you feel better, without brushing over heartbreak or hurt.
The Regrettes have always carried themselves with an excitable energy, but their third album exudes self-assurance to go alongside it. The result is both brutally honest and joyfully exuberant, as the band get comfortable and cathartic in their own skin – and invite you to do the same.
Release date: April 8
Record label: Warner Bros.