Fleeting Joys first two albums – 2006’s Despondent Transponder and 2009’s Occult Radiance – were some of the best shoegaze sound-bombs of the 21st Century. My original review of Despondent Transponder basically said it was the closest we’ll ever get to a follow-up to Loveless. Not the first time I’ve been wrong. Anyway, when the band – married couple John and Rorika Loring with some occasional help on drums – went silent after 2009 I figured they traded in music for a “normal” life filled with careers and raising a family. Once again, I was wrong. It wasn’t quite the twenty-two years My Bloody Valentine took to follow-up Loveless, but ten years later Fleeting Joys are back with a new full-length, Speeding Away to Someday.
You show up to a shoegaze album wanting mountains of beautiful noise made by an army of guitar pedals, and Fleeting Joys are more than happy to provide that thrill. John Loring deploys the full spectrum of sounds guitar geeks who worship at the altar of Kevin Shields, Mark Gardner, Andy Bell, and Neil Halstead want to hear, but Speeding Away to Someday offers listener so much more than that. For me the heart of the album is found in the vocals. Yeah, I know vocals are often thought of as an afterthought in the shoegaze world, and true to form, it’s often hard to decipher Fleeting Joys’ lyrics (“You Want To” is a crystal clear exception); but the way John and Rorika’s voices weave in and out of each other in layers of off-kilter harmony is unique, and it distinguishes them from their influences and contemporaries. It also sounds downright romantic at times, even on a song like “Kiss A Girl in Black” where the only lyric you can make out is the word “suicide”. “Come To” is a real treat too. It’s a drum-free ballad-of-sorts, built on a bedrock of sweeping MBV-style sheets of guitar sound, but with an Spacemen 3-esque orchestral quality that will have you wondering, “are those actually violins or just contorted guitar/synth noises?” all the while losing yourself in its world of beautiful sounds.
Each of these nine tracks are excellent, and if you like the bands Fleeting Joys compares to, then Speeding Away to Someday just may be the most important release of 2019 for you. It’s limited to 300 copies on handsome red sunburst vinyl, so act fast.