From the first moment I saw them on Conan O’Brien’s talkshow Conan, giving away an electrifying rendition of Whirring, I knew The Joy Formidable were something special. The indie rock band debuted in 2011 with The Big Roar, a record stuffed to the brim with a blistering mix of noise, dreamy pop melodies and shoegazing, and although the album suffered slightly from some pacing issues (especially the latter half of the record has the tendency to trudge a bit), it was a very promising start for the Welsh threesome.
Come 2013, the trio is back with their sophomore effort Wolf’s Law, whilst upping the ante in the process. The album sounds mature and, as a whole, more cohesive than The Big Roar. The Joy Formidable was audibly able to flesh out their style and sounds more like a separate entity on this album than an amalgamation of different artists and musical genres.
Still set firmly in the noise/indie rock corner, these eleven songs (arguably twelve if we count the hidden title track at the end of the last song separately) show us three musicians who know what they’re doing. It’s a bit more noisy and heavy than last time round, with the band seemingly more focused on delivering a more pounding rock album than their debut. Songs like Little Blimp or Bats particularly ripping, whilst a passage like the latter half of Tendons almost being a cacophony of reverberated noise. Most importantly though, The Joy Formidable never fails to deliver a good song in the process, although we can debate the wisdom of including a track like the rather experimental Maw Maw Song. The only real breaks we get from this constant whir of noise are the more introvert Silent Treatment which rounds up the first half of the album, and the hidden title track at the very end of it.
Wolf’s Law gives us a more developed, matured version of The Joy Formidable than two year ago, and the album, whilst perhaps sounding a bit more slickly produced than the debut, improves upon The Big Roar in almost every respect. Well worth a listen in any case, and a very solid rock album from a band that is quite possibly capable of even greater things.
- This Ladder Is Ours (5:11)
- Cholla (3:23)
- Tendons (4:19)
- Little Blimp (2:52)
- Bats (3:48)
- Silent Treatment (3:39)
- Maw Maw Song (6:47)
- Forest Serenade (4:22)
- The Leopard and the Lung (6:00)
- The Hurdle (3:59)
- The Turnaround (including the hidden track Wolf’s Law) (9:32)
- Ritzy Bryan – vocals, guitars
- Rhydian Dafydd – bass, vocals
- Matt Thomas – drums
Review by Ralph Plug