The Joy Formidable
The Big Roar


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
January 21st, 2011 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An impressive full length which will inevitably be one of the year's strongest debuts.

The UK hype train is a well documented circus, and regularly comes under criticism for its tendancy to over-expose decidedly average acts. Of course, there are also instances when the fuss is justified, but such is the unforgiving nature of the nations press that by the time some of these artists release their debut albums their time in the spotlight has passed them by. One of these unfortunate bands are Welsh three-piece The Joy Formidable, who have generated a virtually constant buzz ever since they formed in 2007, having released a handful of singles and an excellent mini-album, A Balloon Called Moaning. Within the UK, they have been labeled as indie rock’s new great hopes by the NME among others, but sadly they hype seems to have fizzled out and been passed on to fresher faces such as The Vaccines and – god forbid – Brother. If there’s any justice, though, a resurgence should be just around the corner, as the band has delivered upon every initial expectation and produced what will inevitably be recognized as one of the years best debuts.

Listening to The Big Roar, it’s easy to see why they garnered so much early attention. While not especially innovative or experimental, the band’s sound is a hugely effective mash up of UK indie such as The Subways and Blood Red Shoes and shoegaze, with a few elements of American grunge thrown in for good measure. The trio are all evidently sound with their respective instruments, while vocalist Ritzy Bryan’s soft and sweet singing proves an interesting contrast with her loud buzzing guitar riffs. Add onto that the strong but not-overly polished production, and you get is probably what a collaboration between My Bloody Valentine and Nirvana would have sounded like in 1991. Music may have moved on since the days of Nevermind and Loveless, but their influence remains immeasurable, and the fact that this record has come twenty years after is more than made up for by the quality of the material on it.

The album is book ended by its two strongest and most ambitious songs, The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie and The Greatest Life Is The Greatest Shade. The former is a terrific display of the bands tenancy to create catchy and hummable melodies over a backlog of guitar noise, which contributes to a particularly epic closing section, while the latter (one of four tracks which previously appeared on their mini album) makes great use of soaring synths to create a genuinely moving soundscape. The ten songs crammed in between, however, are no means filler, and indeed some come tantalizingly close to reaching these hefty standards. A Heavy Abacus, for instance, is the records most anthemic moment, consisting of a monumental chorus executed with the confidence of a band far further into it’s career, while one-time single Cradle skips along joyfully and provides the albums most upbeat number. Like the vast majority of albums, there are some less remarkable moments, but overall this is an impressively consistent offering, especially bearing in mind that it’s their debut. It’s also commendable that they resisted including all of their existing singles here, with last years Popinjay correctly being excluded, whilst they have chosen well from the pool of songs previously released on their mini-album.

Whether The Joy Formidable go on to have the illustrious careers they were initially predicted remains to be seen, but with a string of excellent releases and now this impressive LP, they’ve certainly given themselves a great start. The relative drop in anticipation may not have done them much good in terms of coverage, but sometimes things like that can actually turn out to benefit bands, and exaggerated expectation is something that everyone could do without. Thankfully, The Big Roar is a record strong enough to overcome a false start, and with a little luck it should deliver the band the recognition and success that they deserve.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2011


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Albums out now in Ireland.

Comments + constructive criticism appreciated.

Tyrael
January 21st 2011


20886 Comments


Oh snap, how many times will this get reviewed? That said, this review is pretty great, pos.
Criticism: I was expecting White Lies - Ritual!

Minor complaint: '...and with a little luck it should deliver the band the recognition and success
which they are deserving of.'
Why not simply say ...should deliver the band the recognition they deserve.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

DoubtGin
January 21st 2011


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

officially stoked now

STOP SHOUTING!
January 21st 2011


631 Comments


u need to check the review for these type of errors: "years strongest debuts"; "by it's too (sic) strongest songs". apostrophe in first eg, but not in second.

wasn't blown away by their ep, but need to give it another spin.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2011


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for pointing those out, all fixed.

White Lies should be done sometime this weekend.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oooh, sounds interesting Ali. What would you say they rate on the accessibility meter? Mentioning The Subways seems promising.

Great review too. You don't write many, but they're always good.

In that 1st sentence, did you mean "tendency"?

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2011


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Davey, and yeah I did, thanks for pointing that out. This is pretty accessible, I'd definitely recommend giving it a listen, at least. Here are a few of the singles they've released;

Whirring
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baNMHNblAMU&feature=channel

Cradles
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W66yhfMb4d0

The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfZXQ16yPPU

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ta for the links. Me likey... I wouldn't say I love 'em, but definitely worth more than a casual listen.

Her voice reminds me of someone, but I can't put my finger on it right now.

InAbsentia
December 1st 2011


3542 Comments


These guys are amazing live.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 1st 2011


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The last time I saw them (in October) they were pretty average actually. It was pretty obvious that they needed a break because they've been playing the same group of songs for the past two and a half years. Every other time I've seen them, though, they've been excellent.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2012


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y9nEPttcJ4

New track, big departure.

AlecBaldwin
March 18th 2013


147 Comments


Abacuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuus

CocaineCrayons
August 24th 2014


77 Comments


does the rest of this album sound anything like "whirring"?



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