The Joy Formidable

Wolf's Law

Written by: TL on 05/02/2013 19:43:18

Welsh trio The Joy Formidable are a band whose fame is arguably still blooming and hence it is no surprise that their second full length "Wolf's Law", more than being an album that experiments with all sorts of new stylistic avenues, is a record on which the group tries to do what they did well on predecessor "The Big Roar" again, only bigger and better. And what founding members Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd - on vox/guitar and bass respectively - do well is riffcrafting and soundsmithing, routinely sending huge waves of guitar noise the listener's way, built to as staggering heights as their effect pedals can create.

The riffs have returned bigger on "Wolf's Law" then, as audible especially in the rolling and rollicking "Cholla" and in the monumentally heavy signature of "Maw Maw Song", which hits you like a hammer after a subtle oriental sounding intro melody, and which is lent some extra gimmickery in the band's cheeky vocalising on top of the riff (hence the title). Despite their love for double pedal drumming and loud/louder dynamics however, The Joy Formidable will rarely strike you as a heavy band, mainly due to the easy melodies and Bryan's characteristic hazy singing. Opener "This Ladder Is Ours" for instance has a good riff as well, and the sort of beat that will initially make you feel like breaking a walk into a run, yet something about it feels distinctly poppy and un-energetic.

This is not really a problem though, it merely adds to the curious oddity that is a strength in The Joy Formidable's personality. What is less of a strength however, is the band's inconsistency when it comes to hook writing. Despite their desire to experiment with all sorts of layers of guitar noise, Bryan and Dafydd are not particularly adventurous or complex as song writers, which means you'll have trouble remembering the songs from "Wolf's Law" that don't have main riffs strong enough to give Bryan's simplistic vocal melodies sufficient backing.

So while "Tendons" has a fairly memorable refrain and while "Little Blimps" has some pretty badass riffage going on, it becomes harder to take something away from each song as you move down the tracklist to "Wolf's Law". "Bats" and "Forest Serenade" for example, are songs that don't really feel merited without the volume and punch of the band's spirited live show behind them, and that such problems should find their way into the album is a shame, because they're the same issues that hindered "The Big Roar", and given how good The Joy Formidable sound at their best, it was hard not to hope they'd have grown out of them by now.

Download: Cholla, Maw Maw Song, This Ladder Is Ours, Tendons
For The Fans Of: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Jezabels, Band Of Skulls

Release Date 22.01.2013
Atlantic Records

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