In the midst of the first COVID-19 lockdown, as spontaneity waned and communities sought connection, Joy Anonymous emerged on London’s South Bank, delivering impromptu raves described as “an act of public service.” The DJ and producer duo, Henry Counsell and Louis Curran, became a beacon of joy during uncertain times.
Following their 2021 debut, Human Again, which catapulted them into the music scene’s stratosphere, Joy Anonymous returns with their second LP, Cult Classics.This album, a celebration of the community they’ve fostered, serves as a testament to the duo’s commitment to spreading joy.
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As the days grow shorter and autumn sets in, Cult Classics injects much-needed summer energy. The album features soulful vocal samples from classic pop records, amplified tempos, and a grittier bass, creating a dynamic sound that builds upon the signature Joy Anonymous style. Each track, aptly titled “JOY” followed by a unique suffix, maintains the format established in their debut.
The album’s standout moments include the unexpectedly ferocious climax of the breakbeat-heavy “JOY (404)” and the thick, whomping bassline in “JOY (In Me All The Time),” transporting listeners to a dancefloor bunker. The duo’s selection as supporting act for The Streets’ autumn tour attests to the album’s dancefloor-ready appeal.
While the ramped-up bass adds intensity, mellower moments like “JOY (Breathe Into Me” and the acoustic album closer “JOY (You’re In Or Out)” could be perceived as slightly underwhelming. Despite this, it’s essential to appreciate the honest experimentations of a group founded with the purest of intentions: spreading joy. The challenge of capturing the DIY sound that drew Londoners to Joy Anonymous’ lockdown shows is met through a blend of bass-driven beats, moments of softness, and field recordings from recent performances and travels.
Released on November 3 under the Island label, Cult Classics is a sonic journey that encapsulates the essence of Joy Anonymous. While some moments may diverge from the tight, upbeat club sound, they contribute to an authentic representation of a group whose mission is to uplift spirits through music.