Jolly – The Audio Guide To Happiness (Parts 1 and 2)


Review by Brady Deeprose

InsideOut Music/Century Media Records

It’s not often that a modern rock/metal/alternative band attempts a musical feat like New York’s ‘Jolly’ have with ‘The Audio Guide To Happiness’, a two part musical experience guiding the listener on an audio journey to happiness.

Jolly – Joy [Part 1]

Opening with ‘Guidance One’ to introduce the concept, the first album is just stunning. Dropping straight into ‘Ends Where It Starts’, that huge ‘djent’-esque guitar sound is like a punch to the face. Then, just as quickly as it came, the track recedes to little more than vocals and an unexpected bass riff from Anthony Rondinone. Full of highs and lows but never boring, TAGTH Pt1 is more than just a collection of songs: it feels big. The single ‘Joy’ floats along with a piano melody sitting over a driving rock backing. Vocalist Anadale’s voice is really expressive and suits the bands style perfectly. Think a mix of JK and Matt Bellamy of Muse and you’re some way to describing his tone. I’d urge Muse fans on the whole to check out these albums as I think there’s a definite style crossover, especially with anthems like ‘The Pattern’.

What Jolly bring is an overwhelming sense of a band thinking bigger and actually succeeding. ‘Where Everything’s Perfect’ is a, well, perfect example of what I mean. This six minute epic opens with an upbeat feel, spouting tales of a place where everything is, as the songs title suggests, perfect. Some of the chords in the chorus suggest otherwise and this use of foreshadowing is one of the reasons this album is so good. After a clever scat section, the song takes a darker twist and the true genius of Jolly shines through in their ability to seamlessly segway between intense emotional sections. There’s so little to fault with the first instalment of The Audio Guide… but at a push, I’d say that the production on the record is a little too squeaky clean for my liking. They could have been a little less rigorous but really, I’m clutching at straws. I implore you to go out and purchase this record, not as a rock or metal fan, but as a music fan. I also implore you to check out the music video below for ‘Where Everything’s Perfect’, it’s quite unique.

Jolly – Where Everything’s Perfect [Part 2]

Of course, Part 1 is incomplete without Part 2, the continuation of the Guide concept. This 57 minute romp picks up where the first left off with ‘Guidance Three’ preparing you, in epic fashion, for the album to follow. ‘Firewell’, my personal favourite track begins the album proper in a similar striking way that Part 1’s ‘Ends Where It Starts’ does but gets darker. A lot darker. Possibly the heaviest track Jolly have written, some of Anadale’s vocals are near demonic, suggesting a departure from the light-hearted nature of the albums predecessor.

This could be due, in part, to some of the events that caused the release gap between Parts 1 and 2. The home of drummer Louis Abramson and Jolly studio was all but destroyed by hurricane Sandy in 2012, leaving the band without a practise space and with much of their equipment in ruins. Bouncing back with the help of their fans and a successful PledgeMusic campaign, Jolly got back to business and finished off the second half of the guide. It’s fair to say that an experience like this affected the bands deeply and you can almost hear it in the music. ‘You Against The World’ has a laid back groove that is a distinctive ‘Jolly’ trait that shows off the modern edge of their Alt Rock side dropping into an unexpected yet welcome reggae-esque scat section. I realise this sounds questionable but it’s genuinely decent.

Single ‘Dust Nation Bleak’ is another five minute plus song, really showing off what Jolly can do.  The mixture of metal riffs and a catchy chorus works well and sets up the astounding ‘Golden Divide’ well. A slower track akin to ‘Where Everything’s Perfect’, ‘Golden Divide’ is a more relaxed song that samples seagulls to great effect. Just after the half-way point of the album, ‘Guidance Four’ is a brief moment of pause before the poppy ‘Lucky’ drives you on towards happiness. The rest of the tracks follow in the same eclectic vein, but the guitar solo in ‘Despite The Shell’ really caught my ear. ‘As Heard On Tape’ has a pensive, reflective air about it that clearly winds down to what is more of a soft landing than an emergency stop, setting up album closer ‘The Grand Utopia’. And that’s it, welcome to happiness.

TAGTH really needs to be appreciated as a whole as opposed to two separate albums but the tracks still stand up alone. What Jolly undertake next will be very interesting to hear and, I’m sure, this won’t be the last you heard of them.

9 out of 10

Track listing:         

Jolly - Part 1 CoverPart 1

  1. Guidance One
  2. Ends Where It Starts
  3. Joy
  4. Pretty Darlin’
  5. The Pattern
  6. Storytime
  7. Guidance Two
  8. Still A Dream
  9. Radiae
  10. Where Everything’s Perfect
  11. Dorothy’s Lament
  12. Intermission

Jolly - Part 2 coverPart 2

  1. Guidance Three
  2. Firewell
  3. You Against The World
  4. Aqualand And The Seven Suns
  5. Dust Nation Bleak
  6. Golden Divide
  7. Guidance Four
  8. Lucky
  9. While We Slept In Burning Shades
  10. Despite The Shell
  11. As Heard On Tape
  12. The Grand Utopia