When No Joy last released a full-length album—2015’s More Faithful—the Montreal noise-pop trio was still refining the fusion of fuzzy shoegaze overdrive and beautifully smeared melodies they had been exploring since their 2009 formation. But what felt like a logical evolution at the time proved to be something of an aesthetic dead end—and with the subsequent departures of guitarist Laura Lloyd and drummer Garland Hastings, singer/guitarist Jasamine White-Gluz seized the opportunity to thoroughly reformulate No Joy’s essence through a series of EPs (including a 2018 collaboration with Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom) that gradually embraced more electronic experimentation. “Being in a band for 10 years, life comes into play and there's things that change your path,” White-Gluz tells Apple Music. “More Faithful was the point where No Joy the rock band was over. So the EPs were kind of an exercise in just reframing the band a bit, and trying to figure out what I would do as a solo songwriter.” On Motherhood, we get the answer—and it involves banjos, scrap metal, trip-hop beats, death metal screams, samples of laughing babies, slap bass, and kitchen appliances. With the help of longtime No Joy producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Japanese Breakfast), White-Gluz sculpts all those disparate elements into an exhilarating, shape-shifting art-pop statement that recalls the kaleidoscopic splendor of Caribou (“definitely an influence,” she confirms) and the radical kitchen-sink ethos of early Mercury Rev. “As a listener, I really like maximalism and having as much going on as possible,” White-Gluz says, “so that's probably why the songs are just loaded!” But embedded within the album’s joyously anarchic sound design are sobering ruminations on family, aging, death, and womanhood. Here, White-Gluz provides her track-by-track breakdown to help us make sense of it all. Birthmark “I come from the Cocteau Twins school of writing where you just make up a bunch of garbage that is a melody, and then you fill in the words after. That's usually how I write lyrics. But this one was actually written when I was visiting a grandmother in palliative care and just getting to know the neighbors and the other people that were in there, and just spending time there.” Dream Rats (feat. Alissa White-Gluz) “My sister Alissa is the singer of the [Swedish death metal] band Arch Enemy, and we had never collaborated on anything before. But because the record is so much about family and loved ones—and the fact we were both in town at the same time, which rarely happens—I was like, ‘We gotta do something together.’ So I had her do a guest vocal and she's just, like, such a pro! For me, doing vocals took six months of me figuring it out, and with her, it was one take.” Nothing Will Hurt ”With a lot of the songs on this record, specifically this one, we had a lot of moments where we were like, ‘Is this stupid or good? We don't know, so we're just gonna keep it!’ It could go either way, but I'm really happy with the slap bass on this song.” Four “Jorge and I were in LA, and we wrote the rock part of the song. We left for the day and when we came back, we just lost our mind and put in this whole dance section. It was another one of those ‘Is this a very bad idea?’ moments. And I was just like, 'Who cares? Let's just do it!' We started getting samples and DJ scratches and pitching up our own voices—no idea was left untried, and most ideas made it onto the song. Some of the lyrics are about that time where you realize your parents are just adults—they're just people, and you realize, ‘Oh shit, I'm the same!’ You come into your twenties and you're sort of like, 'Okay, things get real around now,' and you're comparing yourself to what your parents were doing when they were your age. It's loosely based on that kind of idea.” Ageless “This song was written sometime in 2017, probably around the same time I recorded the Sonic Boom EP. Making that record definitely influenced this, because I was able to understand how to utilize synths and programming and drum machines a bit better. I really like doing vocal loops and samples and chopping it up. We also found some metal in the garbage, and then just brought it in to hit it and make that snare sound. Or we recorded the construction that was happening in Montreal and then took pieces of that to build drum tracks. That's all stuff I learned with Jorge through working with Sonic Boom.” Why Mothers Die “Musically, this was a song that was on guitar, but once we put it to piano, it kind of took on more of a sad tone than it had when it was a rock song. And when we did the vocal loop and manipulated that, it really took it to a different place. It's another song about loved ones and trying to understand loss and having some sort of rational understanding for why this happens, and just watching people grieve and exploring the grieving process—not in a directly emotional way, but by taking a step back and looking at death as a function of life. Some people say death is the same as birth—it's something that just happens in the life cycle. So this song is a loose exploration of that.” Happy Bleeding “I was very influenced by some of my formative music years when I was in high school—like ’98, '99, when there was a weird thing happening where rock was also electronic, and all these quote-unquote alternative artists were suddenly on major labels and they could have money to make these records that sound really cool, and labels were putting money behind things that maybe now wouldn't be so mainstream. Things like Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps, Chemical Brothers, Tricky. So I wanted to create a song that kind of had no musical genre and that kind of had an upbeat feeling but maybe lyrically was dealing with things like blood and guts.” Signal Lights “This one I had written in the dead of winter in Montreal, which is pure hell, which is why I think the song sounds kind of sunny. It was a guitar-based song that actually stayed guitar-based, even though we used a ton of pads and ambient sounds.” Fish “This was a really old demo I had that we took some synth and vocal lines from. I kind of wanted to have a weird mix of new age and Gwen Stefani, and put it together and see what happens. It's almost ska at times, and it's like, ‘What's going on?’ We also did a lot of banjo playing on the record, and on this song in particular—we use it often as a texture, so we would have banjo and piano playing the same parts to create kind of like a piccolo sound.” Primal Curse “Not everything on this record is directly personal, it's also just things I've observed. As a woman, you have this ability to have kids and be a mother, and I feel like having a family, to some people, is a curse. Sometimes, they feel hijacked by hormones. Having a child is this thing that's in your nature to do, but whether or not you want to do it depends on if you see it as a blessing or a curse. I think this song was the oldest demo, from early 2016. But in the studio, any idea that anybody had, we tried it. And on this one, everything is there: flute, banjo, piano. So it gets a little wild, but that's kind of how it was when we recorded it.” Kidder “Sometimes I do this thing where I take two demos and just figure out a way to put them into one song, and that's what happened here. Lyrically, it's the most stark and most honest song. It's like your parents giving you straight talk—‘just tell me the truth, rip off the Band-Aid!' But production-wise, there are things that make it a little less serious when I listen to it. I'm one of those people who has, like, 5000 keys on my carabiner, so the sound of my keys dropping into a bowl is the drums, and we had a coffee grinder to make some other drum sounds. So even though it's a very honest and sentimental song, there's a lot of musical stuff around it that is me trying to distract you from the fact that it's a very honest song!”

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