Joy Zipper – 1
For about half an hour in 2004, Joy Zipper threatened to be the band most likely to. They were featured in the NME as ones to watch, and their debut album proper, American Whip, came with a host of ringing endorsements. Their story was almost too good to be true; as well as a recording duo, Joy Zipper were a long-term couple, made up of Vinny Cafiso (James Taylor hair, nice shirts) and Tabitha Tindale (effortless cool, summer dresses). Whilst they were making the kind of hypnagogic, dreamy pop that only those from the American coast can, there was often a darker, more sinister undercurrent to their lyrics, leading one critic to describe them as like “a candy apple with a razor blade inside”.
After American Whip turned out not to be the breakthrough that Joy Zipper had hoped for, they turned their attention to their next album, 2005’s The Heartlight Set, which is where 1 comes from. The Heartlight Set shows more focus and a desire to write catchy, compact pop songs; 1 being the best example. After chugging guitar fades in, Cafiso casually sings, “Lying naked in the sun, making eyes at everyone / You’re the one”. It’s a strong melodic verse but 1’s strength comes in the chorus – which isn’t even really a chorus – where Cafiso and Tindale sing the simple refrain (“One, one, one, wah-unn”) with the kind of disinterested swagger reminiscent of the best 60s girl groups.
The whole thing is over in a little over two and a half minutes, but it’s plenty of time for Joy Zipper to create a sound that takes you to a hazy summer afternoon while filling the lyrics with enough intrigue to keep your interest piqued. While soporific, blurred-edges indiepop isn’t usually the kind of thing to grace the charts these days, the world was a different place a decade ago. Indie and alternative bands such as Bloc Party and Maxïmo Park enjoyed Top 20 hits on a regular basis and the fact that Phantom Planet were seemingly everywhere (“Kyalliforrnya / KYALLIFORRNYA!”) showed there was certainly a market for this kind of sun-drenched pop.
Released ten years ago this August, 1 was Joy Zipper’s last single. According to their Facebook page, they’re working on a new record, but their last musical engagement looks to have been a cover of Just Like Heaven for a Cure tribute record in 2008. Currently, they have no website, no Twitter account, and their Facebook page links to a non-existent Myspace profile. In fact, Tindale now works as a voiceover artist.
Maybe they just have better things to do than put out records for a largely disinterested public. Having been together since 1992, Tindale and Cafiso married in 2009, their wedding even making the pages of The New York Times. That NYT article chronicles Joy Zipper’s formation and the early years of Tindale and Cafiso’s relationship. One quote stands out though; Tindale’s declaration of, “I believe in Vinny, and I believe in his music”.
For fans like me who scour the internet on a monthly basis for sight or sound of a new Joy Zipper song, it’s the scrap we hang on to. Until then, we’ll make do with this one (one, one, wah-unn…).
Entered chart: 20/08/2005
Peak position: 71
Weeks on chart: 1
Who could sing this today and have a hit? This isn’t really a very 2015 kind of record. Bands like Foster The People and Echosmith bother the charts occasionally, so maybe they could have a bash.