The Joy Formidable
A Balloon Called Moaning



by Skimaskcheck USER (19 Reviews)
February 8th, 2010 | 10 replies

Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A wet dream for the indie-kid who’s still lost in the enigma of Loveless.

The Balloon; 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.

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user ratings (40)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 8th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Hello Sputnik, here's a little gem you might've missed from 2009.

Or rather, another review no one will read and no one will go and get.

February 9th 2010


Have you heard of the magazine The Big Takeover? Their editor Jack Rabid is a fan of these guys

February 9th 2010


this sounds really good

February 9th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

I haven't mardin, sorry - my music teacher actually introduced us to these, he's a badass!

I think you'd enjoy it, Eric!

February 20th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

check out The Joy Formidable. live this album bursts into life-full of soul & passion. No hype.

February 20th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, they are pretty sweet live! Big sound for 3 people.

March 25th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Saw them again tonight, great as ever, the new stuff is sounding huge too!

September 15th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

If music had weight this would be a block of pure Osmium. A full album can't come soon enough.

Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

For a trio, Welsh indie-rock band The Joy Formidable sure do make a racket on their debut release 'A Balloon Called Moaning'. Satisfyingly combining fuzzy, distorted guitar with a deceptively catchy pop sensibility, the more accessible tunes here have genuine crossover potential. Lead vocalist Ritzy Bryan will be the main sticking point, her twee voice taking a little while to get used to against the murky DIY production that suits some tracks & holds back others. In a word, this promising half-hour long EP/mini-LP is "intriguing". Is twee shoegaze a contradiction? Recommended Tracks: Whirring, Cradle & The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade.

December 18th 2018


Anyone knows where I can find a download for this, can't find it anywhere...

Digging: Chasms - The Mirage

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