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Joy Zipper Rough Trade Shop 15th November 2003

I first come across Joy Zipper whilst rummaging around on which gives me ‘Check Out My New Jesus’. I’m immediately suckered by their woozy girl/boy honeyburst harmonies, the sound of sunspots and inkblots. My Bloody Valentine rolling in spun sugar. Can’t find their record anywhere, mind.

Then in April this year there’s a picture of them in Bang magazine (that was the first issue and here we are 8 months later and it’s already gone belly-up, hey publishers why not create a magazine that people want to buy, instead of churning out the same old tat every single time?) Girl Zipper Tabitha is wearing a sequinned bikini top and the sun is bursting through a window, bleaching out the background. The article tells me Joy Zipper have a new LP out ‘American Whip’ and it’s produced by Kevin Shields. I have to get my hands on it. Then it turns out the LP release has been put back. There’s an agony of waiting and it not turning up. Argh, the cravings for dizzy dappled effectzladen guitar tunes are too much.


Thank the big fuzz-pedal in the sky then for November which brings us ‘The Stereo and God’, a wee taste of Joy Zipper to ward off withdrawal. Now after failing to catch up with the band live over the past week (cheers London Transport), here I am wedged between racks of vinyl in the Rough Trade shop in a last ditch attempt to get me some live Zipper action. All I can see are rows of legs marching up and down the tinny spiral staircase that leads into the shop, I’m getting flashbacks to being squished in here in 1990, eyes level with a pair of converse that have been lovingly festooned with the words ‘1000 Yard Stare’. Lord help us all. But the band, expanded to a five-piece, sound perfect, even in damped down acoustic mode. Spun gold sunlight refracting through teardrops, slanting and glancing. There’s no ignoring the MBV connection, but where the Valentines were disconnected and claustrophobic, JZ are dreamy, shimmering out into the wide blue yonder. MBV had ‘Moonsong’ – shivering, silvery. JZ have ‘Out Of The Sun’ which goes ‘Today I woke up and thought how much I love the sun’. It’s music that leaves you bedazzled by its sparkle ‘half-stupefied by sea-glitter’ to paraphrase Christopher Isherwood.


Like MBV, Joy Zipper’s male/female dynamic is twisted and spun by the fact that main Zippers Tabitha and Vinny are a couple. We’re being pulled into their cocoon world, like on the swervey haze of ‘Window’ and it’s dual voiced chorus ‘You came when my life was perfect / Changed me to someone else/ Since then nothing seems to matter / We’re here all by ourselves.’ Of course they play the sunstroke genius of ‘Check Out My New Jesus’ and then ‘If I’m Right’ reminds me of Kim Deal guesting on Ultra Vivid Scene’s ‘Special One’, running down the street bursting with singsong harmonies. They end with the loping melancholy of ‘2 Dreams I Had’. It’s warm comedown bliss, ‘Today I walked past some flowers/ And for the first time in 4 years/ They smelled as beautiful as they did /Before you were gone’ Luscious, lustrous, luminous and other words beginning with L...Luvvly.

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