The buzz over The Joy Formidable is, er, formidable. We've all heard more than our fair share of overzealously hyped bands cruising through the hip lips of bloggers, though, and it's hard to know quite how to greet the idea of yet another act whose debut EP is considered the next best thing to the other next best thing's best thing.
In the case of The Joy Formidable, the proof is in the sonic pudding now that their debut full-length has hit the shelves in North America.
Along with a fat, juicy rock sound, the trio from North Wales, now based out of London, boasts a weapon in the form of vocalist/guitarist Ritzy Bryan that sets them apart from the countless other indie buzz-and-fuzz bands.
The Big Roar opens with a clatter of haunting, disturbing sound and springs rather surprisingly into an anthemic number called "The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie." The track spirals as it should and Bryan adds thick guitar. Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas create texture, with Dafydd's bass coursing through like blood racing through veins.
Much of the aptly-titled record is ready for big stadium crowds, with stunningly full, lush sounds coming from the trio's desire to convey their energy on a large scale. The overused "wall of sound" descriptor sure as hell applies.
Even on the spunkier numbers, like the crunchy "The Magnifying Glass," the band cuts into the track and fills all the spaces with a gloss of hard, tough guitar and chunky bass. Bryan, Dafydd and Thomas attack the songs, chewing them up and topping them off with a foamy head of what amounts to great fucking rock and roll.
Four cuts from the band's EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, are here as well and that makes this a brilliant introduction for folks unfamiliar with The Joy Formidable.
"A Heavy Abacus" captures Bryan's voice at her most vulnerable - maybe. The tune is bolstered by driving, urgent guitar, but it's the beautiful way that "rock's new heroine" (thanks NME) frantically guns it through the higher notes and then drops her volume every so slightly that really creates those goosebumpy moments.
With The Big Roar, this stout, honest little band proves their worth. They are beyond their buzz, thankfully, and their exuberance is gloriously evident with every mammoth song. The Joy Formidable will be filling stadiums someday, so it's probably a good idea to get in on this magical ground floor now. Thank me later.