Current Joys’s debut album “Wild Heart” feels like a coming-of-age-film

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Emma Dela Cruz, Social Media Editor

When we take Stand By Me (1986), Clueless (1995), or The Breakfast Club (1985), we are looking at what many claim to be some of the greatest coming-of-age films of all time. While coupling life’s unpredictable and often mundane events with bold, unique humor, the teenage protagonists of these films shine under a light of realism and relatability. But it is not just the cast members, who often receive the most attention, that set these films apart. Viewers often disregard a key element that distinguishes a sloppy Netflix original from a classic teen drama. It’s the music that truly pulls together a coming-of-age movie and makes it a gem in the film industry’s sea of unpolished stones and rough pebbles. With Wild Heart, the debut LP of alternative artist Current Joys, the beauty and emotion of a coming-of-age film are captured perfectly in 10 short, one-of-a-kind tracks.

Nick Rattigan, better recognized under the moniker Current Joys, is a singer and songwriter of Henderson, Nevada. Growing up in a childhood of musical variety, Rattigan released his first album, Wild Heart, in 2013 under the moniker “TELE/VISIONS”. After switching to “Current Joys” in 2015, the 28-year-old has released six different albums and a handful of singles, with his seventh album, Voyager, set to release in mid-May. Rattigan also serves as a music video director and a member of Surf Curse, an alternative duo formed in 2013. Pairing nostalgic elements with guitar and drum instrumentals, Current Joys is not a mainstream artist, but has gained a substantial following from a few of its hits, which were popularized through social media. 

Wild Heart unfolds with “My Blood,” a slow, heavy tune that bears weight on listeners. A four-note guitar melody is repeated for the duration of the song, with a single lyric: “It’s in my blood,” mumbled sloppily over the instrumentals. The song seems to carry a depressive fog as it chugs along, with no sort of climax or action. Despite its slightly merrier ending, which is a single, conclusive note, “My Blood” is a disappointing opening that inaccurately represents the rest of the album.

“New York City,” the second track, serves as an upbeat outlier of the LP. The tune features great harmony between the instrumentals and vocals, with a rush of child-like excitement contained within the cymbal clashes and electric guitar riffs. Lyrics such as: “I never grew up in my head” and “I’m alone,” are lonely thoughts sprinkled throughout the main chorus: “In New York City.” This song would pair perfectly with the summer bike ride scene found in every coming-of-age movie, and being one of the longer songs of the album, listeners receive almost four minutes of mellow delight. “You Broke My Heart,” the final track, is simply a softer and less unique version of “New York City.” It summarizes Current Joys by featuring common stylistic elements of the artist’s music, but does not set itself apart from the other tracks.

Being one of Current Joys’s most popular works, “New Flesh” radiates that distinct, homesick energy found in coming-of-age movies. It is the album’s chief track. A repeated guitar riff opens the song, followed by lyrics such as: “I listened to The Cure” and “I watched Videodrome.” These references to 1980s pop culture further exemplify the retro wistfulness that Current Joys’s songs carry. “New Flesh” places listeners inside memories they didn’t even know existed and makes them the main characters of their own lives. The masterpiece can be described in as much or as little detail as desired, but it’s something you have to hear to truly understand. “New Flesh” is an experience, not just a song.

Honorable mentions of Wild Heart’s tracks include “Blade Running,” “Blondie,” “Strange Life,” and “Televisions”. Although all triumphs and subject to listeners’ opinions, these songs feature the same melancholic guitar and drum instrumentals that alternative fans know so well without being special. “Blade Running” contains synth beats reminiscent of 1980s pop, and “Strange Life” closes in a unique, distorted fashion, but they are overall not the stars of the LP.

In Wild Heart, Nick Rattigan makes his beyond-average debut with alternative songs that evoke emotion in listeners. Even though all of the LP’s tracks include themes such as sentimentality, sadness, and homesickness, each individual song has its own character. Wild Heart scores a solid 5/5. Fans of Arctic Monkeys, Clairo, The Wallows, and other indie/alternative artists are sure to adore Current Joys’s music. However, with the way Rattigan’s songs somehow access listeners’ deepest memories and bring out unknown emotion, any coming-of-age fan can pick out at least a few tracks for their playlist.