Review: Joy Electric

Joy Electric
“The Art And Craft Of Popular Music”
(BEC Recordings)

It’s a painstaking chore to describe something you just don’t care for.  And so we have a two CD box set featuring 12 new songs and 3 remixes on the first disc and a19 song greatest hits collection on the second, culled from the 8-year recorded history of Christian synth-popsters, Joy Electric.  This is throwback (and I mean, way back) keyboard rock, bringing to mind three words: early Depeche Mode.  A few other words pop up like New Order, OMD and the Pet Shop Boys, as well as long, cumbersome and unchanging.  But JE frontman Ronnie Martin seems to have been most influenced by Modesters Gahan and Gore, minus the Goth.  Just squiggly, blippy sweet confection built upon innumerable layers of analog synthesizers, reminiscent of old Atari games and conversations with R2D2.  The 34 songs deal with the usual love and life, and even when a broken heart is being sung about, the music is upbeat and cheerful.  And, of course, there are religious undertones.  Oh joy!  For fans, this will most likely be the Promised Land.  Anyone else will be hard-pressed to make it through the first disc. If you try, just pretend it’s 1985.