The Joy Formidable
When “The Ladder Is Ours” begins, you have 44 seconds to prepare yourself before Wolf’s Law crescendos to fifth gear. You can either grab hold of the opening strings or let them drift weightlessly by, but the Joy Formidable is taking off whether you’re hanging on or not. Propelled to the stars from this first track, the band maintains a similar revelatory energy for the duration of the album. Pulling from the sonic attack of 2011’s The Big Roar, the band members have refined their sounds in impressive fashion. Ritzy Bryan’s guitar attack is surprisingly sharp for what is essentially shoegaze; Rhydian Dafydd’s bass gives Bryan’s guitar that extra punch; and Matt Thomas makes sure the band doesn’t drift too far into the cosmos, his drumming often evoking the best of Jimmy Chamberlin. Bryan’s vocals, her best yet, always sound hopeful no matter the lyric, and they’re juxtaposed nicely alongside her unconventional guitar riffs which hit the mark every time. The Joy Formidable has created a sound entirely its own. Influences can be unearthed from these songs, sure – My Bloody Valentine, M83, the Smashing Pumpkins – they’re all there, but they only reveal themselves as stepping stones to a sound that is truly unique to this band. This is an event album, one that stands on its own as powerful music and a strong indication that the Joy Formidable is here to stay.
- Michael Buice
Opening with the relaxed and beachy “Forever, Until,” Dog Bite’s easy guitar strum, steely lead guitar melody, and light vocals create a sound that melts in the listener’s ears. This smooth as honey sound continues for the sleepy “Supersoaker” with its ooh-ing backup vocals and the carefree, ambient “No Sharing”. With upbeat drums and an edgy electric guitar lead contrasted by the light and subdued vocals, “Prettiest Pills” comes together in a cool balance of sound. Dog Bite gets a little grungy on “You’re Not That Great,” with sounds reminiscent of Nirvana from the angsty vocals, persistently throbbing bass, and edgy guitar. The jumpy drums coupled with the foreboding bass and guitar create the anxious, urgent “Paper Lungs”. The album concludes with more mellow tones on “Stay Sedated,” “The Woods and the Fire,” and “My Mary”.
- Gabe Cavallaro
Reviews curated & edited by: JJ Posway