Probably best known as one half of dance pop duo Prince Innocence, Toronto-based artist Josh McIntyre has struck out on his own as Prince Josh with The Joy, a warm and inviting collection of house, downtempo and instrumental hip-hop buoyed by hypnotic, dreamy pads and well-placed samples.
It’s a bit slight at just under half an hour, but its brevity proves a strength in the end, keeping things varied and moving at an agreeable pace that works to the advantage of certain shorter cuts that arguably get by on texture and vibe more than anything.
Much of what keeps things interesting is McIntyre’s choice to largely eschew vocals and instead populate the album with samples he’s apparently hand-picked from the internet’s periphery: vlogs, interviews — the everyday content of everyday people, those with followers in the dozens as opposed to millions. It’s a neat touch that strengthens the mood of a lot of these tracks, giving things a democratic, down-to-Earth feel in the process. The exuberant rush of breathless exclamations in “TMZ” somehow perfectly evokes the titular gossip site’s content, for instance, and the dreamlike “London” features unintelligible, but slightly sinister, whoops that suggest violence might be just around the corner.
Elsewhere we get a few proper vocal features (Lauren Armstrong’s downbeat “Ultra” is solid, with a ghostly horn interlude), but it’s really the sample-oriented tracks that define The Joy, and it’s telling that the LA timpa and Yves Jarvis vehicle that closes the album (second single “Blood”) is perhaps strongest because its spoken word, rambling phone message style sounds closest to the kind of thing McIntyre might have stumbled on during his browsing of the masses.
Some of these tracks could be unkindly labelled as mere sketches, but The Joy is the perfect example of an album that adds up to something more than the sum of its parts. Short, sweet and definitely worth your while, McIntyre’s debut is deceptively simple, leaving an impression larger than its size. (Hand Drawn Dracula)