The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar
Label - Black Bell Records
Release Date – 24th January (UK), 15th March (US)
In a scene in which there are so many indie rock bands simply rehashing the easy and let’s face it, boring; I was not so sure about a band that I cynically expected to slot quietly and miscellaneously into the background. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to be exposed to an album full of life, originality and punch.
The Joy Formidable have a gift. They have an uncanny ability to make all of their songs sound absolutely enormous…which would make their full debut “The Big Roar” one of the most aptly named albums in recent memory. A lot of this comes down to production, the layers of guitars and thick bass tones keep their songs heavy handed and raucous whilst still giving the feeling of there being a lot of space. In longer instrumental segments, notably in "Austere" and "Whirring", the volume is just begging to be set to maximum, a truly ear thumping experience. A clear post-punk vibe is also very apparent, notably in "Chapter 2" and "The Magnifying Glass". This is where The Joy Formidable have set themselves apart from the rest of the indie rock scene. They have dared to venture in the loud, the textured and the big sounds, instead of the more minimal, tangy and clean indie rock we are hearing far too much of these days.
This is not to say that The Joy Formidable are all about the power for they offer a lot of finesse. The opening track "The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie" is by no means a heavy number, more a melodically laden indie track with a shoegaze, space rock feel. Yet you are still pinned back into your chair by the seemingly never ending barrages of sound leaping towards you. "Buoy" and "The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade" also follow the same ability in being a power ballad of sorts yet still feel like its melting your face off. It is all so loud.
Vocally, Ritzy Bryan is just a breath of fresh air and one of the best female vocalists I have ever heard. Her voice is smooth, gentle and honest. Mixed with the largeness and punch that the instrumentation offers, her voice becomes the perfect counter balance. Rarely have I heard two contrasting approaches work with such ease. Rhydian Dafydd (did I forget to mention they are Welsh?), backup vocalist and bass player offers another smooth and lower toned voice to layer on top of Ritzy main vocal attack. And Matt Thomas, on the drums may just be the unsung hero of the record. The drums always sound so big and most importantly, original! Some of the rhythms he plays are just fantastic and really give the songs an extra dimension; true quality.
All in all, an incredibly solid and impressive debut rock album. With The Joy Formidable, you are never far from a relaxed, blissful classic rock musical moment as to a post punk ear drilling. This is one that should not go amiss this year.
Love this band!! I got into them when they released A Balloon Called Moaning. One of the best new Indie bands to hit the scene! Although I'm a little upset that 3 of the tracks on the new album were also on A Balloon... but at the same time, I'm cool with it because those songs are so damn good!