Furious strumming precludes a sense of danger in the lead vocal that cuts through the initial riffage in “Joey,” the new single from The Bobbleheads’ Myths and Fables, but it’s just a taste of the carnal rock n’ roll pulsations that are about to come roaring out of the stereo in this slab of throwback alt-rock. The percussion eventually joins in with a gentle strut, and with the even-paced slew of beats that arrive in the next few minutes comes another swinging groove from The Bobbleheads, who take a conservative approach to an otherwise rip-roar song indebted to the past but fearlessly looking ahead at the future of indie rock with a confident swing, a lovely pop hook and a marvelous vocal harmony tucked into the eye of the sonic storm.
On the surface, “Joey” has a rather generic beat, but the rhythm in this single wasn’t really structured to be the main draw. The guitars steal away a lot of the attention from the lyrics, especially in the chorus, and towards the middle of the song they become so swollen in the mix that they start to cloud over our view of the drums altogether. The Bobbleheads stick to the fundamentals of pop/rock when it comes to the design of the lyrical hook in “Joey,” but every other element in the song (aside from the percussion) has a moment of recklessness that, rather than throwing the entire track off course, enhances the easygoing attitude of the band all the more.
I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that the music video for this song is better than any of the others I’ve reviewed lately, but it’s got a charming panache that makes it accessible not only to the group’s most loyal fans but also to those of us who aren’t as versed in the deeper cuts of their discography. Directed by the gifted Fred Gebhardt, the video for “Joey” gives us that up close and personal kind of feeling that usually only comes with seeing a live performance in a shadowy, small-scale venue, and while the credits are about as long as those you would see at the end of a short film, nothing about this release seems all that exaggerated or inappropriately extravagant.
The Bobbleheads are still flying under the radar for most listeners outside of the greater Bay Area, but with all of the tenacity that they show off in “Joey,” it’s not hard to see why their fan base has been growing in recent times (as has critical approval of their work). They’re still a San Francisco alternative act that proudly boasts their rough edges when it counts the most, but they’re refining their sound and moving closer to a streamlined style in this song and its video that I find very becoming. There is still some room for improvement and aesthetical growth, as can be said for most of the bands in their peer group, but I have a feeling that “Joey” is going to end up being another well-received single for this collection of talented players.
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