A delightful splash of retro-y synth pop, “True Grit” is slick and stylized even as it likewise feels heartfelt and handmade. With its well-crafted blend of electronic sounds—pulse-like, percolating, plucky; wooshy and shimmering—the song floats in the airiest of spaces yet remains grounded and determined. First we get a fully-developed, Eurythmics-like instrumental melody; then comes Dan Armbruster, singing with New Romantic aplomb, cool and hot at the same time, telling us far less with his words than with his tone. The song appears to pivot on the melodramatic, non-sequitur-ish “Sometimes the English countryside remembers war”; yeah, I’m not sure what that’s about either but it glides by with marvelous ease.
The song hinges on that lyric largely because it’s one of the few lines that emerges from Armbruster’s mouth with purposeful clarity. For most of the song, he obfuscates with elegant panache, singing words that you can only almost understand. It’s an underrated pop song trick, not unlike pairing sad words with happy music: pairing a smooth-as-silk sound with not-quite-intelligible lyrics. The ear is captivated and, perhaps, happier this way than if it also has to process a storyline. Works for me, anyway.
Joywave is a quintet from Rochester that formed in 2010. “True Grit” is one of seven songs on the band’s debut EP, Koda Vista, a work indirectly inspired by the rise and fall of hometown behemoth Eastman Kodak. You an stream the album on Joywave’s Bandcamp page, which also offers a variety of corporate-themed purchase options, one of which includes credit towards the purchase of Eastman Kodak Company stock.