Review Summary: A wet dream for the indie-kid who’s still lost in the enigma of Loveless.
; a smooth, yet fuzzy wall. The Moaning
; the gritty passion behind its door. The Called
; no, no forced metaphor, it simply just bridges the two aforementioned words, akin to how The Joy Formidable bridge their haze of sound and their feisty energy with melodious pop hooks. Think guitar textures with more colour than a child drawing fireworks, and think hooks that’ll get more stuck in your head than your brain itself.
The Joy Formidable provide a stream of flourishing soundscapes, as opener “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade” demonstrates. It becomes quite clear from the get-go that this release could definitely be (and has been) described as ‘dream-indie’. The buzz of the album could easily act as a soundtrack to some kind of adventure, with its boisterous elements partnered with moments of sincerity. It is its oxygenated kick that makes it glow, however it’s certainly not impossible for the wall of sound to bypass you entirely if you aren’t listening properly, particularly on the weaker tracks such as “9669” and “Ostrich”. The feeling of the album is always consistent on the other hand; the atmosphere A Balloon Called Moaning
creates occasionally dwells with aural irony - its coarse guitars shouldn’t feel this cuddly(!), but they make it so with their vocalist, who has a voice that perfectly defines the phrase ‘floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee’.
The said vocals are forced upon you by lead singer Ritzy Bryan, who is on occasion backed by real-life boyfriend and bassist Rhydian Dafydd (the drummer is definitely the third wheel here). As a consequence of this inter-band romance, the lyrical themes are generally focused around a relationship, sung boldly by Ritzy’s wispy timbre – a pleasant contrast to the album’s intense scenery. Rather than embrace the soppy side of affection however, The Joy Formidable use its energy to generate something much more exciting. This excitement usually escalates in each chorus, an area where the band excel. “The Last Drop” for example pulses with energy when Ritzy inquires ‘How come it’s all around me"
’ over and over, resulting in an almost child-like state of confusion and naivety.
Which is exactly what makes the album work. Though fairly short in length, The Joy Formidable pack a hefty punch with A Balloon Called Moaning
– but the rush of energy is quirky and bouncy enough to already become capable of causing a wave of nostalgia. Ritzy’s defiant vocal performance alone stomps around the listener’s head, the alluring light throughout the wake of the album, yet thankfully does not overshadow the backdrop of the band. It’s a little like chasing your youth by flying through a cloud of minor euphoria. But not quite making it through the other side because that’s when the dream ends. Maybe when they’ve woken up The Joy Formidable will follow this up with something a little more special, but for now this’ll keep the pop sensibility just where we want it.