Mt. Joy, the L.A.-based band, released its sophomore album “Rearrange Us” on Friday. Its first album, “Mt. Joy,” was released in 2018, and since then, Mt. Joy has toured with The Lumineers and alternative rock indie band Rainbow Kitten Surprise. The band stays true to its sound in its second album but keeps its fans engaged with a personal, heartfelt record about overcoming mental illness and breakups.
In the album’s opening, “Bug Eyes,” lead singer Matt Quinn sings sleepily over a lax drum beat. As the song progresses, background vocals are added. The song picks up tempo and energy when Quinn sings, “You let it kill / Let it love / Let it lie / Let it fall.” Quinn seems to contemplate a relationship he feels warmly toward, but he doesn’t seem to know where the future is headed. He sings reflectively about his relationship, “So maybe I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait, and maybe I'll wait too long / You were the first but you won't be the last if I keep traveling on / Always look forward, and may all your love be returned.”
The album’s namesake, “Rearrange Us,” highlights Quinn singing with his recognizable raspy inflection about all things life and love. He contemplates his feelings under an upbeat guitar track singing, “'Cause it seems like a short life / But it feels like a long time.” Quinn seems to be pleading with the universe, asking it to “rearrange us.” Whether he’s asking for the rearrangement of a relationship or the reformation of how humans perceive and share love is up to the listener.
“Have Faith” serves as a hopeful interlude with a gospel-like sound that brings hope to the listener. The male and female voices harmonizing, “Have faith in the good,” fills its audience with warmth.
“My Vibe” is an upbeat, wavy summer bop. Quinn encourages the listener to “move ’til you feel better.” This feel-good indie-pop song is lighter than most Mt. Joy songs. “My Vibe” is the closest the alternative band comes to a dance song, and it’s perfect for summer fast approaching.
In “Let Loose,” Quinn expresses that he wants to stay with his partner despite the pair aging out of their youth. He sings sweetly, “Yes, I want to get lost, I want to get loud with you / And when I get low I want to get high with you / Watch that snow fall on the remains of our youth / Just pull me in and don't let loose.” Toward the end of the song, there’s a long guitar break and intense, rhythmic piano and drums chime in to bring it to a close.
Quinn wrote “Every Holiday” the day after Christmas. The song is a bluesy holiday ballad. Quinn sings genuinely and somberly, “Merry Christmas, babe, I hope we make it through.” The song features complementary instrumental backing, including a soothing trumpet solo; the addition of a brass instrument is a new layer for the almost strictly acoustic band.
“Come With Me” starts slow and sounds like a church hymnal. Quinn sings, “All of us will not be returning / We lend our hearts to the burning flame / And don't come back again,” but the song quickly shifts into energetic muscality. Quinn repeats “Come with me oh come with me, you got to see the world I see / Come with me oh come with me, girl I'll make you happy.”
“Death” seems to be about Quinn overcoming depressing thoughts. The song starts with a groovy guitar backing and Quinn gradually comes in singing. Then, the song amps up with the full band. Quinn sings loudly and passionately, “Like ooh la la la, ooh la, I know why you like death / ’Cause when you get in trouble, pulled under rubble / You want something else.”
Quinn seems to be referencing himself throughout the song, singing, “Get your life right, boy / There's so much more.” The entirety of the song seems to be Quinn fighting to see the positive and counteract negative emotions. He sings convincingly, “There are holes in your eyes / Full of impossible light / Learn to laugh when you cry / Make a rainbow in your mind.”
Quinn sings with a dark inflection in “Acrobats.” He seems to be overcoming anxiety throughout the song. He sings, “Look alive, don't hurt yourself, touch your body / Realize your surroundings / Count five things in the room / ’Cause no one is dying soon.” The song picks up pace and volume and moves to eerie piano music, intense guitar and loud rhythmic drums.
After “Acrobats,” the final four songs of the album highlight a break up Quinn is going through.
Quinn sings as if he’s overcome with emotion in “Witness.” He sings about failed love and no matter what his partner's actions are, he still wants to love them. He sings slightly aggressively to show his intense emotion: “Shut off that stupid song / I should cut out your tongue / Shut off that stupid song / I don't believe in anyone, but / I'm ready to love you still forever under your spell / I'm ready to love.”
“Us” is a sad ballad, and Quinn sings with a dark tone about his lost love. He ponders on fond memories of his relationship while also singing about the pain, arguments and heartbreak. He sings slowly, “And everything was perfect but you were staring at the surface / And I always got the feeling you'd start digging / Love for heaven, love for satan, neither's worth a conversation / I just hope you get where you belong in the siren song.”
“Become” starts after a seamless transition from “Us.” “Become” feels deeply personal to Quinn’s experiences. He seems to start letting go of his partner throughout. He sings about moments they’ve shared. Quinn sings, “Your strange is not awake yet, I hope it's just sleeping in / I need someone to celebrate the wins / I need someone to share this with.” The listener might perceive that his words aren’t optimistic but are recited because it's Quinn’s way of coping from losing his love.
“Strangers” is the perfect cap to the four-song string of break-up tracks. It’s desperate yet hopeful. Quinn sings as if to convince himself repeatedly, “I am over you.” “Strangers” features upbeat and melodious piano to accompany his dignified singing. The song slows toward the end, and Quinn gently sings to bring the band’s sophomore album to an end: “love will rearrange us.”
Although Mt. Joy pre-released eight tracks from “Rearrange Us,” there’s still discovery to be made in the album’s entirety. The musicality and lyrics featured in the album seamlessly string the listener along the journey and tell personal stories of Quinn. For a mid-level band, the songs deserve to be recognized for their genuineness and personability.
Contact Audrey Nakagawa at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.