Album Review: Joie De Vivre – We’re All Better Than This


Joie De Vivre, the sometimes-5-piece North American band from the very poor region of Rockford, IL, has come a long way from their previous LP, The North End, with 2012’s We’re All Better Than This.  Where their previous record attracted a specific audience—ages 16-25 and midwestern, if that—this one breaks demographic grounds, emotionally and musically.

The growth can be credited to many factors: demographics, disenchantment, longing to be somewhere else. The 11 songs on We’re All Better Than This lyrically search for a new place and implies desires for more than what exists, but at the record’s core are miniature love letters to the midwest transferred through songs as telegrams to family, friends, and band members from lyricist/bassist/vocalist, Brandon Lütmer. The record’s barely 26 minutes long… and JDV’s members are barely 26 years old, or just turned. There’s no irony keep in mind.

I was sixteen ten years ago, track 3, rises like a god damned long lost Van Halen anthem made for poor ass slacker midwesterners who had all their dreams cut short by laziness, career detours, and breeding. I’ve said this a whole lot and I’ll say it again with reference to this song: It’s a hit, whatever that is these days. Lütmer duets with a wanna-be 90s post-emo-gal on the song’s quasi-bridge:

I just want you to grow old, move and support some thing else.
I just want you to grow old, move and support someone else.

Into the outro:

I wanted to be a writer.

Me too, dammit, me too.


Joie De Vivre, L > R: Reggie Railroad Reynolds, Stevie, Sean Lippy, Thomas Derby, Bill Reynolds

Joie De Vire is a band comprised of members who call Rockford, IL, home. Anyone who knows anything about Rockford, IL knows that it is a place that people want to escape from, to be anything other than what they are becoming— or they are pretending and attending or belonging to some sort of bull sh¡t church or city government organization where people pretend it’s getting better. There are no jobs, no opportunities, no reasons to believe that anyone can be anything other than a drunk or a potential parent of another depressed human being. Pathetic is what Rockford, IL, is.

The music and lyrics encapsulates the region like very few bands before them; not even Cheap Trick, capitalist power poppers who proclaimed Rockford their home 30 years into their career.  They were never able to bottle up the sounds and emotions of their hometown like Joie De Vivre has with We’re All Better Than This.

Track 6, I guess not:

I stopped believing when I turned 20 that there was something more than this…
I’m not afraid of the future, I’m not afraid to fail.

We’re All Better Than This has no standard repeat choruses, and there are abbreviated verses and off-the-cuff bridges.  It’s everything a classic rock record from the 90s, a decade it emulates, isn’t— which makes it all the more magnetic and interesting a listen.The record’s producers, Chris French (co-producer/lead guitarist/composer( and Mark Gustafson (co-producer/newest touring member/lead guitarist), deserves credits for steering what may first appear to be a typical post-emo-rock record into a midwestern, anthemic, slacker documentation of what classic rock could and should be in 2012.

On Robert Muldoon, Lütmer croons:

so distant and unsure of where I should go / so unsure and predisposed to hate where I live

Regardless, this is Joie De Vivre, and they are better than you and where you live. This record, 26 minutes and out, is all the proof you need.

Listen to We’re All Better Than This by Joie De Vivre




Andy Whorehall (SM)
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Album Review: Joie De Vivre - We're All Better Than ThisAndy Whorehall

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