The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law
It's been a big couple of years for The Joy Formidable, and whilst they've gathered a strong fanbase in their native UK, it's fair to say that their popularity on the opposite side of the Atlantic eclipses their domestic achievements. The trio can call none other than Dave Grohl a fan, leading to a support slot with the Foo Fighters on a tour of the U.S., as well as more recently, warming the stage for Muse in Europe.
So what do the plucky trio from Wales have to offer with the follow up to 2011's debut, The Big Roar? Well, as you would expect from a band now more accustomed to filling stadiums with their sound, Wolf's Law is a full on, no holds barred, rock album. Huge guitars, thundering drums and obscenely extravagant crescendos fill the album. It's worth noting that Ritzy Bryan's lyrics have matured and evolved, but often her vocals aren't enough to hold the album together.
The record kicks off as a natural progression from The Big Roar, with the two singles 'This Ladder Is Ours' and 'Cholla' showcasing the band at the height of their powers, combining to create an almost perfect noise-pop song. Unfortunately that's as good as the album gets, with the next track, 'Tendons', covering well trodden ground; not so much a disappointment as a plateau.
Surprisingly, the album's peak comes by way of the acoustic beauty 'Silent Treatment'. Bryan's voice is carried effortlessly by the gentle guitar in this folky ballad, which is just the change of direction the album needed. Just at that point in which you find your mind had started to wander, planning what to have for dinner that night, it pulls you back in like a siren on the rocks, lulling you into a false sense of security and tempting you in before hitting you with another wall of musical noise via 'Maw Maw Song'. Doing exactly what the title suggests it maws and maws and maws and then maws some more for several minutes, making it at least twice the length it needs to be, and leaving you disinterested.
Once again the band find themselves at their best when experimenting with different directions, which is evident on the final two tracks: 'The Turnaround' is an 80s ballad with serenading strings, and the title-track closes the album well by being more focused and deliberate, showcasing once again Ritzy's vocals and incorporating more into their sound, with pianos and those strings from the previous song featuring.
The album title is a nod to Wolff’s Law, a scientific theory best exemplified by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill when her character, The Bride, learns to half the block of wood by hitting it repeatedly until her hand, over time, became strong enough to break it. The principle being if you do the same thing for long enough, you will get stronger at it and that is certainly the case for The Joy Formidable; they have got better at what they do but unfortunately what they've done with Wolf’s Law isn't enough to keep your attention for the entire journey.