Current Joys

Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds.

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Current Joys - Voyager


To listen to a Current Joys song is to be immersed fully in Nick Rattigan’s world. An avid consumer


of cinema, a visual artist as much as he is a musician, Rattigan’s music is tactile, its imagery


and sonics conceived simultaneously. It’s unclear where the films Rattigan is inspired by


stop and his personal life starts, but the blending is what makes Voyager so remarkable.


Voyager, the seventh LP from Current Joys, rattles with the live-wire feeling that’s thrummed


through all of Rattigan’s previous releases: a quavering, scream-itself-hoarse vocals and self-interrogation


via song. But here, that bristling, sentimental rock ‘n’ roll cacophony is overlaid with a


soundtrack orchestra guiding it along. It’s an odyssey, a grand-sounding journey of self-discovery


spread across sixteen tracks. Part ekphrasis, part personal, it’s Rattigan learning new ways to understand


his own feelings and identity while inspired by the highly-stylized, striking storytelling of


filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Lars Von Trier, Terrence Malick, Agnès Varda, and Andrei


Tarkovsky. Voyager is unlike anything Current Joys has released before.


On his new LP, Rattigan eschews lo-fi home recordings for a full band and recording sessions at


Stinson Beach Studios. As a vocalist/drummer in his other band Surf Curse, Rattigan had finally


opened up to the possibility of working in a professional studio: “I’d just been very stubborn in


wanting to do it all my own way, but I guess I’ve kind of opened up the creative process to more


people at this point,” Rattigan explains. “ And I think it yields better results.”


Since 2013 Current Joys’ output has been prolific. A Nevada native, Rattigan began Current Joys


in Reno, before moving to New York after school and busting his ass working as a production assistant


in the film/TV industry. He’d play Current Joys shows to dismal audiences around New


York, and found himself increasingly drawn to Los Angeles’ scene instead. He relocated to LA in


2016, and the songs that make up Voyager began coming together shortly after.


Each piece of Current Joys’ previous discography is wholly built and envisioned by Rattigan, selfrecorded


and quickly released, quivering with a lonely intensity. Within six months of beginning


the project, Current Joys had already released its debut, Wild Heart; by 2018, the sixth Current


Joys full length and visual album, A Different Age, was out. All the while, Current Joys’ profile


quickly and quietly ascended, selling out venues like LA’s El Rey along with European tours, simultaneously


amassing millions of streams of the catalog, and a dedicated following.


But while the audiences and songwriting/recording approaches changed and continue to evolve


for Current Joys, the inspiration Rattigan draws from cinema remains a guiding force.


“Something that naturally sort of happened was watching movies and being inspired by them so


writing a song about the content of that movie,” Rattigan explains. “But it started to influence me


more spiritually when I went to this double feature of Tarkovsky. They were showing The Mirror


and Nostalgia at the New Beverly, and just watching those movies made me realize how there’s


different ways to communicate music, or communicate art. Obviously with Tarkovsky it’s in a very


surreal but spiritual and intense form, and I tried sort of mimicking that feeling into music instead


of visuals. I started reading directors’ autobiographies -- I’ve always taken way more from what


directors do vs. what other musicians do.”


Frequently he uses film as a jumping off point for songwriting. “Big Star” was written on tour after


watching Adventureland, hoping to capture that specific endless youth energy of the soundtrack’s


Replacements and Big Star songs. “Amateur” is piano-heavy, a slow-build of tension, flitting


with prettiness, while the creeping “Rebecca,” named after the Hitchcock film before Rattigan


had actually seen it, radiates a haunted, sinister presence; “Naked” feels almost unhinged, while


“American Honey” is a longing, mellowed lament. The title track, “Voyager pt. 2,” holds a sparse,


near-funereal starkness, as well as the album’s thesis: I’m a voyager in my mind, before the Spielberg-


esque strings swell.


Somehow, the amalgamation of tone fits. Rattigan, who stays up all night to perfect the sequencing


of his records once they’re recorded, doesn’t set out with a typical aesthetic in mind – instead,


it just happens. Performing is his catharsis. Which feels palpable on Voyager; there’s fragments


of hours spent watching movies, as well as stories from his own life; there’s overly-caffeinated


car rides blasting the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa; there’s inspiration taken from the crooning presence


of frontmen like Jeff Buckley, Chris Isaak, and Nick Cave, as evidenced on Rattigan’s cover


of the Boys Next Door’s “Shivers.” And there’s the simple, ecstatic energy of getting a bunch of


friends in the studio.


It’s all held together by the fervor of Rattigan’s creative process. He believes in the premonitory


power of music, and he latches onto the song ideas that strike him in the moment, propelled by


an abstract existentialism or burst of feeling more than anything else. It imbues Voyager with an


intensity and intimacy – with the sense that you’re getting to hear, all at once, the disparate parts


that make a project – or person – into a sprawling, cinematic whole.