The cover art of Petite League’s fifth album, Joyrider depicts a red car driving through a mountain road. Below it is an image of men in wrestling gear doing cartwheels while their central figure has a skull for a head, with a halo illuminating it. Overall it’s a fun and carefree image except for this morbid addition. It’s amazing how this image encompasses the themes of the album so elegantly, as Joyrider is as sunny and enjoyable as a beach boys album. It’s surfy lofi sounds, jangly guitars and endearing melodies can make you feel nostalgic for a life without a care in the world. A world that in present times, often feels like it’s falling apart.
But there’s no doom and gloom to be seen here, not on the surface at least. Opener “Moon Dogs” is all bouncy and gleeful with fuzzy guitars and bright riffs. It’s lyrics reminisce a life that: “don’t want you ever coming back again”. Petite League is moving away from it all, to enjoy the remaining moments before the end times.
Which is what they sing about on the title track. “Joyrider” has a 60’s classic pop feel. In it the band resolves to “play my way through the rapture” as “this might be our last summer”. The apocalypse might be on its way, but we’re leaving it all behind to “start fights no one thought we could win” or “setting cop cars on fire in Brooklyn”. It’s fun and lighthearted, with a shadow creeping up from behind. A clever ruse achieved through good lyricism and even better pop sensibilities.
The other songs may not dwell on these ideas too hard, instead focusing on their own subject. But the band still peppers these imagery around with subtle flourishes. In “St. Michael” vocalist Lorenzo Gillis talks about buying candles for the titular Archangel from Catholic faith – a stalwart protector who defeated the devil and thus prevented the destruction of the world. Although in the song, Gillis fascination with the figure stems on how it reminds him of when St. Michael used to watch over him and his drunk friends.
I was expecting “Dark Disco” to be the more somber track in this collection, but instead it feels like a surfy beach party. Although the lyrics delve into deeper themes of light and dark. Ideas that blew over my head during the first listen as I was busy vibing.
Petite League’s Joyrider has duality embedded in it. An album that’s fun and can make you dance, while also sympathizing on how hard things can be at the moment. And sometimes that’s all we need to keep pushing through.