The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7.5 Release Date:2011-01-24

The debut album from Joy Formidable is big - big guitars, big vocals, big pounding drums, big grandiose production. Opener 'The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie' epitomises their sound. It rocks like a bastard as the soaring shoegazing guitar and the huge drums batter your ears into submission - all summed up in seven-plus minutes, phew. Ritzy Bryan's scorching passionate vocals rip across the top of the track at breakneck speed.

The band's passion for hard rock and, at times, early grunge lays down the foundations on The Big Roar and the guitar continues to swirl with vitriol on 'The Magnifying Glass'. At times I can hear shades of early Lush as Ritzy's loud but ethereal vox balances out the pummelling and bombastic drums during 'I Don't Wanna See You Like This'.

For a three-piece, they generate a huge amount of noise whilst maintaining a tautness that is sharp and upfront. 'Austere' is all indie rock but the noisy fuzz that hangs around in the background keeps from being filed under 'moderate rock'. Ritzy seems to have more than one bee in her bonnet and that's so evident on 'A Heavy Abacus', albeit she reminds me of a very, very angry Carol Decker on this particular track.

Joy Formidable don't know the meaning of the word mellifluous and the jolting guitars lurch back and forward against a tirade of military style drums during 'Whirring', forming the same layout as The Stone Roses' 'Resurrection', but going easy the groove and hard on the pedal as the last four minutes of post-rock are a heavyweight white-knuckle ride of national debt proportions.

Vocal duties are handed over to guitarist Rhydian Dafydd on the Chapterhouse influenced 'Llaw=Wall' and it's a welcome respite as his voice breaks beautifully with the opening violin. It's initially more haunting than the rest of the album as it builds slowly. The arrangement of the song is also well constructed. Joy Formidable are firmly juxtaposed between rock and indie, with a foot in each camp. 2011 could be a promising year for them.

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