In the audiophile film, “High Fidelity,” John Cusack’s character asks the pivotal question to his audience, “What came first? Music, or the misery? … Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” For Current Joys’ creator, Nick Rattigan, it’s the emotions that spark the music, and it’s emotion that propels his new release, Voyager off the independent label Secretly Canadian, to harmonious ebbs and flows. Melancholic and moody, with slow downbeat downers and upbeat goth pop bangers, Rattigan croons to tales of existentialism and heartache with a little romantic bravado woven in along the way.
Starting off on a somewhat somber tone, Voyager opens with “Dancer in the Dark,” a far off and aloof single that moves like a slow moving tributary flowing into the wide openness of “American Honey,” a softer toned tune with a hint of bitterness. Ramping it up to 10 with the light and edgy goth-punk tune “Naked,” the band lets loose a fevered plea before gaining control again with the intensely written but delicately played “Altered State.”
In “Shivers,” the band finds itself somewhere in the middle, edging along a tangled, but tightly woven web of romance. Shredding some words into torn and mangled remains while sharpening others into well pointed daggers, Rattigan captures a complex and emotional state of infatuation that may not be healthy, but is certainly powerful.
While some songs are soft and melodic, as with “Voyager Pt 1” and “Voyager Pt 2,” others pick up the tradition of great, danceable goth-punk music such as with “Money Making Machine,” a tune that makes you want to jump up and find the nearest flowers to twirl around and dance to like no one’s watching.
Accompanying Voyager, is the band’s release of a nearly hour long musical film, “The Phantom of the Highland Park Ebell,” incorporating songs from the album. The cinematic element compliments the sprawling and wide sound of the album, perfect for your next moody indie feature.
While fitted for a dramatic backdrop, Voyager is ultimately a deeply intimate album that draws its listener in with hints of finality and an aching, echoing question aimed at our souls. Yet, in all its wandering, heartache and trepidation, there is a softness and a humanity that submits to the suffering as much as it does the joy.
Words: Patti Sanchez