Friday, 1 February 2013

The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law

Joy Formidable are without a doubt one of the most underrated bands fighting it out in British rock music today. What keeps them under the radar is the fact they are formed of the classic triangle of guitar, bass and drums. There is currently so much emphasis on synth beds, marketing and angular haircuts it is easy to forget bands should be about making music. That's what Joy Formidable do with aplomb, and they also do it better live than many of their contemporaries. Their first album The Big Roar was one of the best debuts of recent years and unfortunately that's where they fall down with Wolf's Law. It's classic 'difficult second album' territory. It seems while attempting to emulate the success of their first-born, the trio of Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt have fallen foul of creating a shadow. 

While there is nothing wrong with Wolf's Law as an album it just can't stand up on its own. It doesn't sound as full and complex as The Big Roar, the lyrics don't leap in the same way, the sometimes self indulgent instrumental passages aren't as realised. 

It wouldn't be fair to completely dismiss an album because it isn't as good as a band’s first effort and there are great moments on Wolf's Law but that's all they are, moments. Little Blimp is full of the drive you would expect and the guitar solos whir in and out of the pump of the drum and the bass and The Leopard And The Lung is possibly this album’s The Greatest Light…

What fans expected to come out of Ritzy and Rhydian eloping to the wilds of Maine to write and record was not what the album delivers. The two acoustic tracks on offer, the Jose Gonzalez-esque Silent Treatment and the secret track Wolf's Law are the real stars in this night sky. They offer a sample of what the band can do lyrically and melodically when the pedals, bells and whistles are shut off and they stick like nothing else on the album. 

While there is a possibility and a hope the songs will sound wilder and more dynamic live this is all we have for now, and it wasn't worth the hype we built up for ourselves. Regardless of any complaints it is still a worthwhile album and a welcome break from the current electro pop revival.


Paul Schiernecker 

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