The Joy Formidable
**** out of *****
Wolf's Law announces The Joy Formidable intention that the Welsh 3 piece are ready to be heard everywhere in 2013. The group's second effort (after the successful The Big Roar) is packed to the gills with bombastic pop epics that just seem to keep rising to super symphonic heights.
Don't think classic power rock trio (although they can pack a punch) the group has blasted far beyond the sounds of guitar (Ritzy Bryan) bass (Rhydian Dafydd) and drums (Matt Thomas). There are strings, electronica, acoustic guitars, synths and pianos adding to the layers of sound throughout.
Things begin via a Sci-Fi string/organ intro of "This Ladder Is Ours" before the catchy riffs and high register, pretty vocals from Bryan take over the track. Banging and soaring at the same time the band moves things brightly along the airwaves. The majority of these songs run long here as things seem to take one or two turns as they roll out adding to the overall bombastic feel of the disk, but also playing a touch long winded.
The shorter efforts work best like "Little Blimp" with its disco infused hard rock in the vein of the Arctic Monkeys around their Favourite Worst Nightmare days; this track can be slammed at high volumes in a packed dance club impressing and getting the body moving. "Bats" is another successful electro flavored punk number with a double kick up at the end that spruces things up.
An acoustic breather via "The Silent Treatment" proves the band can tone it down before their most arena ready jam "Maw Maw Song". This beast has a massive chorus that reverberates everywhere while the verses contain a current of energy pulsing underneath before a slicing laser filled breakdown.
While it is a certain highlight the track that stuck in the brain the most is the "The Hurdle". Beginning with what sounds like footsteps in the snow the song builds up first with an acoustic guitar then the masses join in leading to a full on symphonic backing. Things go back and fourth between tender and huge before the full on electric guitar lead explosion that closes out the exhilarating tune.
The downside here is that things may be a touch too overdone as tracks seem to go on and on, the closing track "The Turnaround" is a good example of this, basically 2 songs in one that seems forced. However, the overall result of Wolf's Law finds a band extremely confident in their sound producing a texture, layered and successful full length release. If this is the vein that pop music flows through for 2013 then things are looking fairly bright.
These are always intriguing albums to review. There is no doubting that Wolf's Law from The Joy Formidable is a Very Good to Great release with lots to sort through after multiple listens, that said their style isn't our favorite. Quality needs to be recognized and appreciated though and Wolf's Law is chock full of it. It will be interesting in 12 months time if we come back to this album when we review 2013, but as things stand it is a solid contender, our personal preferences be damned.
Buy the album here, Catch the band live here, and peep some samples below:
"This Ladder Is Ours"