The Regrettes’ Journey Towards Becoming Contemporary Pop

By Lily Hoveke

April 8th saw the release of The Regrettes third album, “Further Joy”. Originating from Los Angeles, the band rose to fame with their garage rock-influenced debut, “Feel Your Feelings Fool!”.  While their first two albums have been more punk and rock-influenced, this album shed those in favor of newer pop-influenced sounds. This album completely shifts from the band’s punk origins in favor of this contemporary genre.  

The intro, “Anxieties (Out of Time)”, immediately highlights this new change. There is a particular inflection that many rockstars tend to utilize when they sing (whether purposeful or not), and lead vocalist Lydia Knight is one of them. That accentuation, that loud and brash emphasis singers give towards their vocals, does not appear on this track. Or most of the album for that matter. Had I not known this was the Regrettes, I would not have guessed that this band was the one putting this album out.

“Monday” talks about struggles with anxiety and depression, and feeling overwhelmed with that. It’s a relatable song with lyrics such as “An existential crisis and it’s only Monday”, highlighting the mental exhaustion and yearning for a tough week to just be over (fellow college students, I know you can relate to this one). 

The third track, “That’s What Makes Me Love You”, is a love song about admiring a partner’s small qualities and wanting to spend the rest of your life with them. Many of the lyrics reflect going through tough times with a loved one but finding the little things under the surface to keep both parties sticking around. It’s a relatively basic song and the lyrics are simple and straightforward, not leaving much to the imagination.

“Barely on My Mind” is a fun sounding song, but underneath the lyrics reflects an abusive relationship. “Follow me around, hold me till I drown, whiplash” and “400 miles away you control me” are just a few of the statements hidden underneath the danceable beats and electronic guitars. It sounded like an attempt to mimic what Paramore did with “Hard Times” – changing the sound of the music without losing any of the lyrical content that made the music great to begin with.

“Subtleties (Never Giving Up On You)” follows and immediately slows down in tempo. It’s a love song to oneself, promising to never give up on the parts of themselves they were previously insecure about. Insecurities are a hard thing to overcome, and Knight doesn’t shy away from sharing that difficulty with listeners. This track reminded me of a Clairo song instrumentally, which isn’t an insult, but it didn’t feel like a Regrettes song.

“La Di Da” picks listeners back up with another song about struggling with anxiety, and the sound reflects that feeling well. It’s fast and desperate, and sounds like club music that indie kids would love to dance to. While the subject of the matter is complex, the lyrics are kept very simple and easily digestible to match the energy of the sound surrounding it. 

“Homesick” had an interesting start that I actually really enjoyed. The opening guitar is very reminiscent of the melody from “Edge of Seventeen”. However, once the pre chorus set in, it’s traded away in favor of a synthesized beat. Emphasizing about the rush of wanting to get back with a lover, the singer yearns for their long awaited touch.

“Better Now” touches on a common theme that many know all too well: trying to love yourself after a toxic relationship. Within the lyrics, it’s noted that the singer gives their best attempt at relearning how to act around new people. “I’ll heal myself for the hope of someone else” and “I’d like to treat me better now” reflects the growth that comes from getting older. The desire to change and radiate love can be deeply felt throughout the song, and I think that makes it one of the best tracks on the album. 

“Rosy” is a song about finally finding your first healthy relationship. While I appreciate the message, it’s a bland song, and I had a difficult time finding much to say about it. “You’re So Fucking Pretty” is a song about an intense and overwhelming crush, pondering if it’s even reciprocated. Both of these tracks pull heavily from indie pop influences. Unfortunately for them, they’re also largely forgettable.

“Step 9” discusses the feeling of anger after receiving an apology and not feeling like it was genuine. Coming from a victim of substance abuse, the singer implies they’re most likely apologizing to fulfill the duties of recovery, rather than sincerity. The track is unique from others in terms of theme and mood. Instrumentally, however, it sounds too similar to other songs that it also ends up getting forgotten amongst the mix.  

“Nowhere” was exciting to listen to right off the bat. It sounded just like their older music, covered in garage rock undertones. With Knight’s voice in her distinctive range, the song also incorporates their newer pop sound. The hit is about living in the present and not letting societal expectations cloud a person’s view on life. Outro “Show Me You Want Me” ends with Knight simply asking to be shown that she is wanted. This is one of their upbeat pop songs that is not only memorable but would be great to hear at a concert. 

Overall, I was not a huge fan of the album. Each opening tune gave its song the potential to become a banger. Once it actually started, the opportunity kept being taken away. Each track would quickly be replaced with generic sounds and often boring lyrics. Many of these songs spoke on complex issues, ranging from self-love to substance abuse. And yet, the lyrics were simple to a fault. This band is incredibly talented. They’ve already put out two fantastic albums before this. I genuinely think that they could make the transition to 100% pop music if that’s what they want, but “Further Joy” was not a good example. Many of the songs felt rushed and often very generic, apart from a few exceptions. As a long time Regrettes fan, this album was a disappointment. I wanted to like it, but I really did not. The band is definitely capable of switching up their sound. Although I think they could make amazing pop music, I don’t think this album helped their case at all.

There are some positives to this. My personal favorites, “Nowhere” and “Better Now”, were the best songs on this album. They felt the most genuine, also sounding unique but also like a song that the Regrettes would release. It’s incredibly difficult to change up a musical style after keeping to one for so long, so I commend them for making that change. At the end of the day, they are artists and they make music for themselves, not for the fans, and should not be expected to change their vision over critics disliking it. While “Further Joy” was not my cup of tea, this could very well be someone else’s album of the year. If that’s the case, I hope it finds them well.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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