The Joy Formidable - Hitch - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Joy Formidable - Hitch

by James Weiskittel Rating:9 Release Date:2016-03-25

Welsh alterna-rockers The Joy Formidable have spent the past decade carving out their own place in the all-too-crowded waters of post-millennial rock 'n' roll. The band was a breath of fresh air when their debut, The Big Roar, was released in 2011, and they continued to refine their approach with their follow-up, Wolf’s Law. But while both of those releases had their fair share of highs, The Joy Formidable’s soon-to-be-released third album, Hitch, finds the band confidently at the top of their game.

Hitch is simply everything you could want in an a rock album. The sprawling songs have bite and swagger with just enough ‘hook’ to keep your attention from drifting. The album opens strongly with “A Second in White”, with drummer Matthew Thomas’ frenetic tom blasts laying the perfect foundation for singer Ritzy Bryan’s infectious singing.  “Radio of Lips”, with it’s up-beat swing and extended solo breaks simply never lets up over the course of its six minute running time. 

Bassist Rhydian Dafydd is ever present, holding down his end of the ‘power trio’ formula and providing one of the best bass intros this side of “Under Pressure” with the opening lines of title track. The album continues whit its impressive scope of sounds as the band explores both ballads (“The Brook”) and ‘four-on-the-floor’ rave-ups (“It’s Started”) with a progressive touch...(almost every song here hovers around the six minute mark).

Everyone has stepped their collective game up here, with Ritzy’s vocals covering some new-found range while the band stretches out in the sort of way that only years of playing together can really allow.  “Running Hands With The Night” impressively twists and turns over the course of it’s seven minutes while never crossing that line of ‘self-indulgence’.  

The band balances the back half of the album with the radio-friendly “Fog” and the stretched-out acoustic cut (complete with flute solo!) “Underneath the Petal”.  Saving the best for last, Hitch closes with the cinematic epic “Don’t Let Me Know”, leaving little doubt to the band's overall ambition this time around. 

Simply put, The Joy Formidable obviously set out to stretch the boundaries of what they are capable of, and in return have delivered what may wind up being their high water-mark as a band.

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