Album Review: Vance Joy – In Our Own Sweet Time

On his third album In our own sweet timeVance Joy leans more than ever on the romantic. Combining its delicate stories with acoustic pop melodies, each song feels like a snapshot of a personal and intimate memory. In our own sweet time feels like the rush of a romance in the summer heat bottled in an album.

In our own sweet time opens with the beautiful guitar patterns we know in Joy’s music. However, the opening track ‘Don’t Fade’ introduces new facets to Joy’s musical language. With the production including backbeats and echoes on Joy’s vocals, it becomes clear that this album is Joy experimenting with perhaps more mainstream pop ideas. Besides such acoustically leaning instrumentation, this sometimes doesn’t quite fit, but it does offer a more diverse soundscape than we’ve heard from him before.

Feels like summer wrapped in three minutes of whimsy

In a poppierre approach to his music, Joy’s singles shine with clarity on the album. ‘Clarity’ is the album’s biggest pop moment, with an upbeat hook and cheerful horn melodies. This track captures a sense of fun in the album and does so with a really catchy groove. Likewise, ‘Missing Piece’ is an extremely sweet ode to finding someone who makes you complete. With the pulsating drums exploding in the chorus, ‘Missing Piece’ is a bright and euphoric moment on the album.

The merry joy of ‘Missing Piece’ transfers into ‘Catalonia’. Starting as a simple ukulele tune, the song evolves into a joyful tale of a summer romance. With Joy’s narrative lyricism, the ukuleles and horns build to create a song that feels like summer, wrapped in three minutes of whimsy. It’s a real highlight of the album and defines the sun-drenched joy that’s trapped in it In our own sweet time.

However, Vance Joy still shines in his more stripped-down moments; where the honesty of the personal is paramount. ‘Way That I’m Going’ is a slower and more acoustically driven moment on the album. A delicate expression of finding your guiding light in a person, it is one of the most emotionally fragile and beautiful moments on In our own sweet time.

A delicate expression of finding your guiding light in a person

Subsequent tracks on the album share this sentiment, with “Wavelength” having the charming title line, “we can make it in our own sweet time.” However, this second half of the album seems to lack energy and each track is very similar, making the album seem very frontal. ‘Wavelength’, ‘Boardwalk’ and ‘Looking at Me Like That’ are reclusive melodic moments. Each shines in its lyricism, like every track on the album, but perhaps loses itself tonally after outliers like ‘Catalonia’ and ‘Missing Piece’.

However, this does not last long. As ‘This One’ kicks in, Joy’s story re-emerges on the album and the choruses build into a much bigger sound. At the end of the album ‘Daylight’ is a last sincere declaration of love. Joy builds memories to a climax of how special someone can be to another person, and closes In our own sweet time beautiful.

In our own sweet time sees Vance Joy develop his narrative lyricism and offer snapshots into truly fragile expressions of love and adoration. Although the album is sometimes tonally out of balance, Joy’s lyrics never falter. In our own sweet time is a summery soundtrack ready for the beach. But it really comes into its own when it embraces its own charm, whether that be in delicate honesty or bursting euphoria. Love is at the core and it’s hard not to get caught up in the romance of it.

Rating: 7/10

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