The Land of Misfits by Joy Electric (Review)

I’m somewhat torn on this release.
The Land of Misfits

What’s this??? Another release from Joy Electric? Could Ronnie Martin be the hardest working man in Christian music? It sure seems like it. And yet despite the fact that he always seems to have something new coming out (look for the new Joy Electric album later this year), and despite the fact that Martin has never deviated from his formula of effeminate vocals, syrupy-sweet pop hooks, and enough bloops and bleeps to blow up a Sega Genesis, I still haven’t grown tired of his stuff. That being said, I’m somewhat torn on this release.

Remember when “electronica” was supposed to be the big new trend? Well, it appears as if that particular form has morphed into another: “drum and bass,” with releases from Goldie, Fatboy Slim, and Roni Size that garnered quite a bit of acclaim.

When I heard that Joy Electric was doing drum and bass, I was initially thrilled, because his music seemed like it would fit quite nicely. And when I first heard Joy Electric’s drum and bass ruminations, the remixes of “I’m Your Boy” and “Sugar Rush,” I was ecstatic. But the more and more I listen to it, the more and more I wonder about it. Sure it sounds great, but it almost sounds hollow. Those sugary melodies and vocals are no longer the focus, but those crazy beats, which just end up sounding tacked on. Joy Electric’s music, despite the high random bloop factor, has always sounded like every element fit together perfectly. This doesn’t. However, I’m not totally against Joy Electric’s drum and bass, because I really think he can pull it off.

But the CD isn’t a total bust, because it features two of the best songs Joy Electric has ever written. The Land of Misfits starts off with “Monosynth,” the incredibly catchy song from Robot Rock. When I first heard him play this at Cornerstone 1997, I knew it was something special. Lyrically, we hear another personal vindication of Martin’s opus, as we sing “In my place there will be stories of a boy who died in sorrow with his monosynth.” Can we say autobiographical?

The album closes with “The North Sea,” which is about as ambient as Joy Electric gets. Basically beat-less, it nevertheless has a haunting melody, with it’s Kraftwerk-esque synths and airy filigrees. It’s dramatic, theatrical, and very poetic. Like all of Joy Electric’s best material. It may not be a hit at the clubs, but I hope the next album is more of this.