The Joy Formidable
Jan 29, 2013 Issue #44 - Best of 2012 - Grimes
With its 2011 debut, The Big Roar, The Joy Formidable helped to usher in a new wave of '90s nostalgia, with grungy guitars galore and alterna-happy songwriting that very often seemed to favor general sonic assault over pure song craft. The sound was hauntingly familiar, almost too much so, like The Smashing Pumpkins heard for the hundredth time on alternative radio, yet it also managed to bring back those halcyon years when heavy-guitar bombast was all the rage.
For the band's follow up to The Big Roar, the Welsh power trio decamped to the unlikely locale of Casco, Maine in snowy winter, forgoing phones and Internet access to create Wolf's Law. The album begins very much where The Big Roar left off, thundering its way through five noisy screeds without much variety in pace or power. However, halfway through Wolf's Law, The Joy Formidable veers off its beaten path, first showing something of a soft side in the acoustic "Silent Treatment" and then immediately following it with the angular "Maw Maw Song," which adopts The Wizard of Oz's "Lollipop Guild" song in strange, trance-like, minor key refrain (yes, it is weird, but it kind of works). Incidentally, these songs, along with a pair of more textured pieces at the album's end, are perhaps the most interesting on Wolf's Law, breaking the aural monotony and finding the band taking a much-needed left turn. Of course, soon enough, for better or worse, The Joy Formidable is back to rocking like a less whiny Billy Corgan or a ballsier Belly. But it's a good sign.
Author rating: 5.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10