Joy Zipper: Bitter, sweet and melodies

As the name suggests, Joy Zipper like to mix things up. Emma Field learns of the dark thoughts behind the seductive sounds
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The Independent Culture

New York couple Tabitha Tindale and Vinny Cafiso, aka Joy Zipper, are used to jumping between the UK and the US, touring their second album American Whip at home and their new one, The Heartlight Set, over here. American Whip won Joy Zipper many fans in the UK, with its signature "woozy" rock sound and dreamy lyrics. It's only now being heard in the States due to label issues.

New York couple Tabitha Tindale and Vinny Cafiso, aka Joy Zipper, are used to jumping between the UK and the US, touring their second album American Whip at home and their new one, The Heartlight Set, over here. American Whip won Joy Zipper many fans in the UK, with its signature "woozy" rock sound and dreamy lyrics. It's only now being heard in the States due to label issues.

At their hotel in London, Tindale and Cafiso seem tired but cheerful. They've hardly had a proper night's sleep since starting a rollicking tour supporting the pop-rockers Phoenix and the Scottish band Dogs Die in Hot Cars. Although waiting for the US release was a drag, Tindale, eternally positive, says: "I think, in the long run, it was good because it gave us time to make The Heartlight Set."

Writing songs is a solitary pastime for the pair. "We're together a lot, so when we aren't, that's when you'll pick up the guitar. If I go visit my family for a week, I'll come back and he'll usually have a couple of songs written," Tindale says. Cafiso agrees: "I think it comes from being really bored. Just sitting around and doing nothing. You are creating a different reality, just from boredom."

Caught in a dappled haze reminiscent of The Beach Boys, much of their seemingly innocent, lovestruck lyrics darken on later listening, touching on themes of loneliness, obsession and death: what appears simple becomes cryptic, and stories are evoked but not really told.

Cafiso says: "I'm not trying to write a story or make anything cohesive; it's just a form of stream of consciousness and not making sense. I think it's more important if words sound good than if they express some huge thought. I don't like when you hear songs and there are too many words, or it sounds too much like writing. It sounds like the guy is trying too hard to say something profound or important."

A song he's written for The Heartlight Set, "Thoughts a Waste of Time", is as much an amusing response to miscommunication as it is - like many of their songs - a dream, a fantasy, a hint at a wider story. Cafiso is anything but thoughtless. But it's their talent for creating such a heady summer sound that have caught so many UK fans; the duo continue where My Bloody Valentine and Air left off, but with an existential twist and an unrestrained pop sweetness.

Cafiso muses on the traps of being recognised for their "woozy" sound. "After a while, you start repeating and parodying yourself. American Whip was, I felt, completely natural." Towards the end of The Heartlight Set there are songs that hearken back to a rich, opiated sound: indeed, these are older songs.

This might prove an unpopular move, but Joy Zipper are committed to moving on. "I think we've got to the end of a phase with this third album, where either I had to go back or just stop," Cafiso says. It seems they had become jaded with label demands, promoting and marketing. "Well, we're on a major label," Tindale says, "and we're Joy Zipper... It doesn't really match up. But we've been lucky, they've let us do what we want."

Cafiso wants to return to the approach they began with. "I want to go back almost to our first album. I want to do an album with complete control, without thinking about singles, or anything to do with the music industry. Just for myself and for Tab."

The single "You're So Good" is out on Monday (Vertigo); 'The Heartlight Set' is out on 6 June. UK tour starts 8 June ( www.joyzipper.tv)

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