The Joy Formidable: Into the Blue (Enci) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 20th, 2024  

The Joy Formidable

Into the Blue


Sep 01, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The Welsh trio of Rhiannon (Ritzy) Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd, and Matt Thomas have been making shoegazey soundscapes with post-punk riffage as The Joy Formidable since their debut album dropped in 2011. Often straddling the line between commercial-leaning, anthemic rock and guitar-based art-rock, their fifth album Into the Blue doesn’t necessarily break any new ground but certainly shows off the band’s consistency and a more mature songcraft.

Similar to seminal indie-rockers Garbage, The Joy Formidable marry razor sharp guitars with electronic effects and dynamic rhythms and polish them up with pop smarts. The best example of which is the lead single and standout title track, a shimmering excursion of pure pop-rock bliss.

Other sonic pleasures are scattered throughout. While none quite live up to the magic captured on “Into the Blue,” all have a certain atmospheric, dark-hued charm. The turbulent guitars are tempered with smooth interludes and sprawling backdrops, adorned with waves of creative melodies and sharp dynamics, somehow pulling off a foreboding sound without really sounding menacing. Imagine a mashup of The Cure with Metric and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The hard-driving “Sevier,” “Bring it to the Front,” and “Only Once” feature caffeinated drumming, angular guitar chords, and searing leads, while the slower pace of “Back to Nothing” allows the inner beauty of the more melodic fragments to shine through. An added feature that tops them all off is Bryan’s vocals. Her distinctive voice is as guttural and dynamic as it is elegant and passionate, seamlessly fitting with the emotional energy of the music. The aptly named “Somewhere New” will make listeners do a double-take. With its rough production and slow acoustics, it acts as a middle of the album palette cleanser.

While not groundbreaking, Into the Blue is innovative in approach and original in delivery and listeners will certainly find some edgy and cool post-punk to latch on to. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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