Ask for Joy is the project of Aaron Rossetto, a multi-instrumentalist hailing from Austin, TX. Rossetto brings a brand of post-punk ala Jesus and the Mary Chain mixed with shoegaze sensibilities and Beach Boy-esque pop song writing. New Private Window is a raw, open, and dark EP that mixes fuzzy and bright textures against a backdrop of sordid candidness involving drugs, sex, and violence. This is Ask for Joy’s seventh EP since the project came into being in 2005. The EP demonstrates Rossetto‘s musical prowess as a songwriter as well as his ability to craft ironically potent stories.
“Slow Kiss” begins with harmonized “oohs” and really gives a sense of the pop-writing inherent in the album. The song also introduces the listener to the seedier side of things with lyrics like “waking up from a wet dream with someone next to you is everything that I could want, that I could ever want”. Rossetto delves into the more private thoughts people may have in what they may see as the darker parts of their being. Guitars create a fuzzy, swirling backdrop while bass and percussion keep things together. Lead guitar is bright with fuzzy edges, contrasting that bright pop sensibility with the edge of the lyrics. “Pinprick Eyes” begins with swirling shoegaze guitars. Rossetto’s vocals bring in a very poppy feel to the track. At the end of the day, he’s a great singer and creates wonderfully layered harmonies amid the shoegaze densities. Also, the lead guitars have a bright, slight fuzzy pitch bend in this song which reminds me of 80’s post-punk greats like Echo and the Bunnymen and Gene Loves Jezebel. He sings “She must be higher than high.” I’m guessing this is a song about drug use, but, again, Rossetto proves himself adept at creating these wonderfully head spinning pop frameworks with contrasting dark imagery.
“I Shiver I Shake” comes from the speakers like a jet plane flying overhead that leads into a slow tempo, warbly wall of sound. Structurally, it has a 60’s pop feel but laden with an entirely different aural palette. It’s a private and personal composition lyrically, speaking of a deeply physical intimacy. “Cherry Popsicle” is rowdier and the guitars are fuzzy and more spacey. The bass provides a deep conversation partner with the guitars. Drums here have a slight reverb to them. This is definitely a post-punk inspired song, brilliant in every way. The song drips with sexual energy as Rossetto sings “I will kiss your mouth and it will taste like a cherry popsicle”. The character in the lyrics attempts to lure the cherry-lipped individual into a cold lake, enticing her forward.
“Lovers Interred” begins with fuzzy bass and bright, spacy synths. The track moves into a more dark-wave feel as it channels 80’s synth tones. This darker feel, as the title indicates, plays well off the topic of death as the lovers in the song are buried together and, therefore, are together forever. “Sugar Coma” has bright guitar and a Psychedelic Furs meets Jesus and the Mary Chain vibe. It’s a short track which would be a perfect length for radio play. “When Your Heart Stops Beating (An Amp Of Epinephrine)” has dreamy guitars and dense fuzz with a heartbeat style bass drum thumping to keep time. The antagonist here is going through an overdose as Rossetto croons “I need, I need the kiss of the life. This is not a DNR.” Synths bring spacey elements to the track as the protagonist pleads for help as his heart stops beating. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, Rossetto is a master storyteller who delves into darker corners while crafting a contrasting post-punk/pop sensibility. It would be easy to place these vocals inside dark, gothic style music but Rossetto masterfully draws the listener into a story world with an ironic, sugar coated reality.
Ask for Joy’s New Private Window draws the listener in with a pop hook and then dunks them into an icy cold reality bath. Warm textures, fuzz, and brilliantly written pop structures wrap themselves around the darker moments of human existence in a seedy, almost too realistic, storyscape. Beyond the tone of the album, Rossetto‘s musical abilities shine throughout the EP as guitars, percussion, synth, and bass are used as his artistic tools to accompany the vocals he so expertly delivers. Download the digital album below at Ask for Joy’s Bandcamp. Highly recommended!