Album Review: Joyce Manor – 40 Oz. To Fresno (2022 LP)

After originally intending to take a short break, LA pop-punk trio Joyce Manor have returned with their sixth studio album, 40 Oz. To Fresno – released 10 June via Epitaph Records.

The strangely fitting title – taken from an auto-corrected text message about Sublime – sets the mood for the happy accidents that comprise the record. Produced by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Tokyo Police Club) and mixed by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Phoenix) with Tony Thaxton of Motion City Soundtrack on drums, a sense of liberation lies at the core of the project. Joyce Manor – comprised of vocalist/guitarist Barry Johnson, bassist Matt Ebert and guitarist Chase Knobbe – wrote much of the album during quarantine, with songs spanning the last eight years.

“This is an interesting record because the final track ‘Secret Sisters’ was actually a B-side from (2014’s) Never Hungover Again and ‘NBTSA’ is actually a reworked version of ‘Secret Sisters’ that barely even resembles the original song,” Johnson explains. “The whole process was just really easy and it was also fun because as a band we hadn’t hung out very much lately. We spent the last decade just talking, hanging out and drinking beers and then we went months without doing that for the first time in ten years.”

Opening track ‘Souvenir’ is a cover originally by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, with swirling synths, palm-muted guitars and Johnson’s distinctive croon. This sets the tone for ‘NBTSA’, which features melodic guitar, thudding bass and driving drums. The next track, ‘Reason To Believe’, is an experiment of bright chords and falsetto vocals, while ‘Don’t Try’ demonstrates Thaxton’s inventive drum patterns between an infectious chorus.

“One song I’m particularly proud of is ‘Did You Ever Know?’” Johnson continues. “I think that song is classic Joyce Manor in the sense that it’s linear and it doesn’t have any repeating parts; it just kind of starts from one point and ends up somewhere else, but somehow it seems to make sense and flow. It’s just short, bizarre and catchy.”

40 Oz. To Fresno’s nine songs clock in at just 17 minutes without a second of filler and plenty of hooks – the very definition of pop-punk. Upbeat love song ‘Dance With Me’ is subtly complex and ‘Gotta Let It Go’ is the song of the album. While ‘Did You Ever Know?’ captures the nostalgia of a teenage crush, ‘You’re Not Famous Anymore’ is a witty take on youth stardom. “I don’t know how much of that song is anxiety about me becoming irrelevant, but I just think about bands who were big when we were starting and now there’s no interest around them,” Johnson adds.

Since forming in 2008, Joyce Manor have captivated audiences with their thought-provoking lyrics and high-energy live shows. Although they have an established sound that reflects their gritty nature, they consistently push the limits by experimenting throughout the recording process. With their 2011 self-titled debut celebrating its 10th anniversary last year and having toured Australia three times, there is the very real possibility of an album run Down Under in the year ahead.



40 Oz. To Fresno is out now. You can stream the album HERE. You can purchase the vinyl HERE.