A Severe Joy

A Severe Joy
Cinematesque Part 1
Nine Mile Records

Former Spouse frontman Jose Ayerve has spent so much time being the nicest guy in Portland that people often forget he’s also one of the most talented. His new singles collection under the anagram A Severe Joy is a welcome reminder.

Cinematesque Part 1 consists of the five singles (10 songs in total) Ayerve has released in the past year online and on limited-edition, plexiglass lathe-cuts — discs that are thicker than vinyl and have “a very antique sound quality,” according to Ayerve. This isn’t antique music, though.

Ayerve, who played and produced everything on this album, mixes throbbing techno drums with ’80s indie-rock guitars and melodies, and the results really work. Songs like “(Meet Me In Your) Helicopter” and “Déjame Tocar” (sung in Spanish) clearly display his strengths as a songwriter. They’re sexy and catchy as hell. In performance as A Severe Joy, Ayerve dons a mask and boots and kicks it up several notches.

On “(Who Doesn’t Have a) Boyfriend (?),” Ayerve goes through a wish list for a potential partner — “I want a boyfriend who likes to smoke some pot … take his clothes off when hot” — over a simple beat layered with a chugging root-note bass line and slinky guitar. It sounds kind of like the band Girls if they were called Guys.

“Walkabout” is probably the best track here. It’s got a pulsating beat, a keyboard line reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3 and backing vocals by Dilly Dilly, who performed with Ayerve in the short-lived supergroup Soft Ex a decade ago. This is Ayerve at his most anthemic. “We need a place to live,” he repeats before the bridge. For our sake, let’s hope he stays in Portland.

Peet Chamberlain

An album release and listening party for Cinematesque Part 1 takes place Tues., Feb. 5, at SPACE Gallery (538 Congress St., Portland) at 7 p.m. Free and all ages. The singles can be heard on A Severe Joy’s Bandcamp page.

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