Too Much Joy
Finally (Discover/Warner Bros.)
by Jef Taylor
Too Much Joy has a small, devoted following but deserves a bigger one. Finally won’t get them one, but may bring them closer. Their silliness keeps “serious” rock fans away, while their intelligence scares off those looking for pure fun. This album changes none of that, but offers crunchier, less processed music. There’s no song here as perfect as “Crush Story” or even “King of Beers,” but a handful of catchy melodies and a big dose of smart lyrics ought to keep you listening. Try to make it to the last three songs: “Skyline” (containing a traditionally philosophic TMJ chorus, “Nobody owes anybody rent/Everybody is an accident”), a surprisingly fun cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England,” and “Under A New Jersey Sky” (an unlisted bonus track also done in comic strip form on the Internet by Doug Allen).
Maybe they’re becoming too settled for the kids to relate to, what with two songs about grown-up relationships. Maybe it’s just not punk to say “I take pleasure in the simple things/I love my headphones and my wedding ring.” Maybe Too Much Joy will always be too close to novelty music for some and not close enough for others (sorry, no fart jokes). But for the rare listener who likes Elvis Costello, NOFX, and They Might Be Giants, this isn’t a bad way to spend your money.