Vertigo - 2005 - 41 minutes

The Long Island, New York duo that make up Joy Zipper, Vinny Cafiso and Tabitha Tinsdale, a couple outside of their musical partnership, have received comparisons with Jack and Meg White, the twosome at the centre of Detroit rock group The White Stripes.

In reality, however, the mix of warm, fuzzy tones and barbed words at the heart of Joy Zipper's third album 'The Heartlight Set' puts them closer in the pantheon of rock partnerships to Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. 

'The Heartlight Set' opens in determined fashion with the handclap percussion, heavy guitars and insistent words of two-minute track 'Go Tell the World'.

Forthcoming single '1' is cheerier, with harmonies and a more gentle guitar backing making something similar to what the Dandy Warhols might produce. The lead single off the album, 'You're So Good', is likewise upbeat, talking of love, contentment and long summer nights.

The record's highlights, however, and Joy Zipper's strongest suit in general, are the tracks that mix the sunny yellows with darker tones. While Tinsdale and Cafiso take turns on lead vocals, it seems that Cafiso is left to front much of the gloomier stuff.

The first of these, 'Thought's A Waste of Time', includes vocal harmonies and upbeat guitar lines but overlays them with lyrics of melancholy and despair.

Another highlight is 'You Run the Game', an acoustic-guitar driven, wistful moment of remorse for a relationship developing for the worse that finishes off with a refrain that seems more a note of contented resignation than despair. This seems to be Joy Zipper's style.

'World Doesn't Care' is even moodier, coupling downbeat lyrics with an almost despondent guitar line.

'Anything You Sent' is more Belle and Sebastian, combining happy words with quirky melodies, while 'No Time' is a sparse unaccompanied vocal track.

What is probably the best song musically on 'The Heartlight Set' is also its most curious lyrically, the lurid drug trip 'For Lenny's Own Pleasure' that seems to in some way involve US comedian Lenny Bruce.

But then, the story of 'The Heartlight Set' is a story of contrast, making it one for those who like music with a quirky combination of brightness and humour with a darker edge.

Bill Lehane

Tracklisting: Go Tell the World - 1 - Thought's a Waste of Time - You're So Good - Anything You Sent - No Time Pt 1 - For Lenny's Own Pleasure - You've Changed - Window - 2 Dreams I Had - World Doesn't Care - Rockdove - Holy Diver