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May 14, 2016

“Wolf’s Law” is a journey into rediscovering The Joy Formidable

TonyFelgueiras/Flickr

With their new album “Wolf’s Law,” members of The Joy Formidable are back with a clear sense of who they are as a band. Their sophomore effort is a carefully written and expertly executed album of powerful, gleaming alternative rock through and through.

This three-piece alt-rock band – currently based in London but formed in North Wales in 2007 – is made up of Ritzy Bryan on lead vocals and lead guitar; Rhydian Dafydd on bass guitar and back-up vocals; and Matt Thomas on drums.

On their debut album, “The Big Roar,” the members of The Joy Formidable made it clear that they wanted to make modern rock music that felt big and powerful. This style has held true for “Wolf’s Law,” as well. When listening to this album, it’s hard to picture the band performing anywhere other than a stadium or arena.

“Wolf’s Law” is very much a journey into discovering what this trio is really about. The album opens up with “This Ladder Is Ours,” a song that sums up the style and immediately makes apparent to newcomers what the band is all about, beginning with a slow orchestral build up before dropping into power-chord-heavy rock.

Those not accustomed to The Joy Formidable may be surprised when they first hear Bryan’s beautiful and gentle voice first come into this track, but don’t be fooled: she has a fantastic vocal range, and while she may sound calm and soft on this first track, she can easily switch gears and come at you with incredible energy and voracity.

She opens up “Wolf’s Law” by inviting us to come along for the ride: “Let’s take this walk, it’s long overdue / And let this love grow over you finally,” confidently telling new listeners that they should have been here before and letting those familiar with them know it’s been too long, while also setting up the theme of self-discovery that the album will focus on.

Sticking with the theme of venturing out and discovering who they are, the next track, “Cholla,” is telling of two things: the band’s sound and style is more solidified and also keeps with the general theme of discovery.

Bryan’s amazing range is on excellent display towards the middle of the album. On “Silent Treatment,” her soft and emotional whispers of “I, over you” lull the senses into a state of tranquil calmness.

This sleepy feeling doesn’t last long, however, as she instantly comes back with biting intensity on the next track, “Maw Maw Song,” ripping away the sleepy haze and violently throwing listeners into a heavy rock song. This is where The Joy Formidable truly shines, building from soft acoustic and orchestral tones to grand-sounding heavy rock. “Maw Maw Song” is also a great example of the group’s ability to let its musical talent speak for itself, allowing the members to indulge in a fantastic guitar solo coupled with slow-pounding percussion. This creates an incredible energy that is evident throughout the entire album, but hits a highpoint here.

“Wolf’s Law” ends with a bit of a melancholy note on the aptly titled “The Turnaround.” It brings the journey full circle and demands that listeners reflect at where they’ve been and where they’ve come from. Here Bryan softly croons, “Hey, I’m gonna stay here and wait / For the turnaround,” and “The best part is over and nothing I’m feeling is new,” which puts us right back at the album’s start and therefore the journey.

Members of The Joy Formidable have clearly hit their stride with “Wolf’s Law.” This is a band that knows its sound and style. The group has used utilized what worked well on “The Big Roar” to perfection, using it as a strong base to build from, creating a fuller, grander sound that is brimming with incredible energy.

Cory Willey can be reached at cjwilley@student.umass.edu.

 

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