Spinning the raw emotions and unfettered delivery of power pop and emo, California outfit Joyce Manor emerged in the late 2000s with a blistering punk sound on their eponymous debut (2011) and follow-up Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired (2012). Developing restraint and slowing things down, they took cues from pop-punk and indie rock on major-label debut Never Hungover Again, which drew upon influences Weezer and Jawbreaker, a maturation that continued on 2016's Cody and 2018's Million Dollars to Kill Me.
Based out of Torrance, California, Joyce Manor got its start in late 2008, conceived as the acoustic pop-punk duo of Barry Johnson (vocals, guitar) and Chase Knobbe (guitar). That idea didn't last long, however, and the band ultimately expanded, with friends coming and going until the lineup settled down a year later with the addition of Kurt Walcher (drums) and Matt Ebert (bass, vocals). Joyce Manor released a split 7" with fellow Californians Summer Vacation in the fall of 2010 via Muy Autentico Records; that same year the five-song Constant Headache demo surfaced as well. It was easy to hear the influence of Jawbreaker in Joyce Manor's music, and the group claimed other influences like early Weezer and Guided by Voices. Songs rarely went past the two-minute mark and their raw yet accessible nature helped to build their name among punk fans. 6131 Records soon took notice thanks to the band's friends in Touché Amoré, who passed their music along to the label. It then only took seeing the group live to get them totally hooked, and in the summer of 2010, Joyce Manor -- representing a departure for the primarily hardcore label -- became an official part of the 6131 family. Their self-titled, full-length debut was released in 2011 to a host of critical and fan praise, and it landed the band on many year-end best-of lists. A split with Oakland's Big Kids followed, as did a bunch of nationwide touring.
Joyce Manor moved over to Asian Man Records for their next album; Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired appeared in April 2012, boasting an efficient nine songs in just over 13 minutes. When it came time to do the next album, the band -- with Asian Man's blessing -- jumped to Epitaph Records. The ten-song, 20-minute album Never Hungover Again was produced by Joe Reinhart, mixed by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Belle and Sebastian) and saw release in summer of 2014. After a long stretch of touring, during which their demands for stage diving and free shows alienated some fans but drew raves from others, the band began work on another record. First, they replaced Walcher with new drummer Jeff Enzor, then they hooked up with producer Rob Schnapf, who had worked with artists like Elliott Smith, Guided by Voices, and Rancid. Schnapf taught Johnson the tricks of stretching one-minute songs into three-minute songs, and introduced the band to a real recording studio for the first time. The resulting album, 2016's Cody, was their most professional-sounding effort yet and featured guest vocals from singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers and Fun.'s Nate Ruess. The band continued the narrative two years later with their fifth effort, Million Dollars to Kill Me, which touched upon themes of doubt and hope. Recorded in Salem, Massachusetts, the 2018 set featured new drummer Pat Ware and the tracks "Fighting Kangaroo" and "Wildflowers." ~ Corey Apar~ Rovi