Friday, March 11, 2011

The Joy Formidable: "The Big Roar" (album review)

Welsh trio The Joy Formidable will finally be making good on their buzz as they release their first proper longer player.  After a handful of EPs and a mini-album, the group release The Big Roar on March 15th.

The growth in the band's sound is striking.  The power and dynamics have increased, it seems exponentially, since I first heard The Joy Formidable.  The vocals soar higher than ever before, with the guitars slashing through like razor blades through these tracks.

The thunderous arrival of "The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie" cedes to an even more forceful rhythm section on "The Magnifying Glass".  Searing guitars burn their way through "I Don't Want To See You Like This".

When the band dials down the volume they are less successful in captivating the listener.  As a result, "Buoy" and the methodical "A Heavy Abacus" seem plodding.   "Cradle", despite it's up tempo frenetic vocals, is merely a straightforward alternative rock song.

The inclusion of "Austere" is a bit of a disappointment.  The infectious song was the first indie radio hit for the band, but amongst this new batch of songs it sounds feeble and out of place.  The band have come quite far since this was recorded, as can be witnessed with the taut explosion "Whirring", which sounds like an update on Gish.

Everything comes together magnificently on the album closer "The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade".  The track combines the best elements of the rhythm section, guitars, and vocals to create an absolutely hypnotic number.  Formidable joy indeed.

The Joy Formidable play the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on April 2nd.

Best tracks: "

Track listing for The Big Roar:
  • The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie
  • The Magnifying Glass
  • I Don't Want To See You Like This
  • Austere
  • A Heavy Abacus
  • Whirring
  • Buoy
  • Maruyama
  • Cradle
  • Llaw=Wall
  • Chapter 2
  • The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade
8.0/10
The Joy Formidable's website

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