After releasing 2010's The North End, Joie De Vivre hit the road for a while, calling it quits at the end of last April before playing one more hometown show (which is available on Bandcamp). At some point between breaking up and the final show, they had announced there was one final album in the works. Late in 2011, they announced their reformation, though without horn player Paul Cardona, who left Illinois for the tropical climes of the Czech Republic.
This album they had been hyping pre-breakup, post-breakup, and post-reformation. This is We're All Better Than This.
If there's one thing that Joie De Vivre do well, it's sounding like an emo band straight out of the 1990s. Think back. You loved Braid, Mineral, Texas is the Reason and The Promise Ring, right? This is maybe a little more polished and laid-back sounding than those bands, but you can blame modern recording technology for that.
Lyrically, this album is the band going through their collective quarter-life crises. Brandon Lutmer seems conflicted at times, on one track singing, "I think I'm outgrowing being in a band", but in others, "I could go to school in Minnesota and pay it back in 20 years/But I'd rather be in a basement in Akron, or Elkhorn, or Kansas City". I think that I connect with this album so much because right now, at 25, I'm going through a lot of the same frustrations that these guys are. Our friendships are falling apart on one hand, growing tighter on another, and we often sit and wonder how life could be better, and then try to figure out how to make it happen. Life's a daunting challenge, and these guys turn it into a really solid album.
Compared to their previous 'final album', this really does sound like the band's farewell album, though this time around, I don't think it will be. This won't be the last you'll hear of Joie De Vivre.
Quick fact: The back of the LP asks you to visit joiedevivreband.com. This isn't actually a website, and it doesn't redirect anywhere. Welp.