No Joy is one of those bands following in the shoegaze legacy of My Bloody Valentine. Their 2010 debut album, Ghost Blonde, was a glorious mix of languid, swirling guitars, with vocals buried in the mix. Songs blended into one another as the waves of reverb enveloped you more and more with every listen.
Three years later, they were back with Wait to Pleasure. The second album saw a more defined sound from No Joy, reining in the rawness of their debut without losing its intensity.
Live, the rawness comes to the fore. For their show at Barboza in Seattle on October 4, No Joy assaulted the small audience with distorted chords, driving baselines and pounding beats.
The subtleties of the production on Wait to Pleasure gave way a more visceral, primal sound.
At times, No Joy seemed to be channelling the hard-edged, fast intensity of My Bloody Valentine before the beauty of Loveless.
The band ignored the audience. No Joy went straight from one song to the other in a short set lasting at just over 35 minutes.
As the echoes of the final track reverberated through the speakers, the band started to put away its instruments. No thank you, no encore.
It reminded me of another eighties band, The Jesus and Mary Chain. They achieved a degree of notoriety in their early days by playing short shows, with their backs to small audiences.
Perhaps No Joy is going for a similar effect. But it risks detracting from a band that has shown in Wait to Pleasure that they can transcend the legacy of shoegazing to define their own sound.