Joy X Libeau: No Rules for Ghosts (bandcamp)

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Priya 2022
Joy X Libeau: No Rules for Ghosts (bandcamp)

This Christchurch duo of Hideto Kobayashi (Joy) and Natalie Joselen perhaps play their most obviously referential – and therefore weakest – song up first on this otherwise impressive six song, 33 minute debut album.

The trip-hop opener Human, good though it is – and you are immediately taken by Joselen's voice – is so perilously close to Portishead it might prompt a shrug of dismissal.

But play on and prepare to be immersed in the seven minute MA which shifts easily from a romantic synthwave soundscape like some edgy Bond theme, hints at Joselen's capabilities as an atmospheric jazz singer, winds down at the midpoint to then rebuild over gently slashing beats and widescreen sonics and lets that hook “in the end wasn't love enough” come back to great effect. Very interesting lyrics too (“this generation of sixty-year olds” gets a mention).

It is a dramatic piece which demands repeat play.

They also have a handle on pop economy (the seductive Priya 2022) but mostly they go for big picture stuff over more than five minutes.

Where You Are Is Where I Want To Be initially sounds like another low-mood trip-hop piece but Joselen lifts it into something deeper and more substantial through her ability to move from a whisper to a belting vocal over the cinematic synths and beats.

The title track is lyrically ambitious and direct (“how shit my week was,” she croons) but also appropriately disconcerting, and as with Where You Are it is a piece which morphs between moods and dynamics.

The brooding and atmospherically spare Daylight is the standout and entry point.

For a debut album presumably recorded on a modest budget, No Rules For Ghosts is fine achievement and if they can hang in for the long haul they will let some of the more obvious influences go and become even more distinctive.

But right now, this will do just fine, thank you.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here.

Hideto and Natalie answer some questions here

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