With music currently being dominated by Indie Pop, folky Americana, and Disney Pop bullshit, Rock has once again regrettably taken an unjust spot in the backseat. Gone is the haydey of early-mid 90’s Hard Rock and Alternative, where loud, deafening guitar-driven bands and artistic, Arena Rock-level acts were a dime a dozen. But fear not: The Joy Formidable is here, and they are exactly what music so desperately needs.
Hailing from North Wales, England, the band consists of Ritzy Bryan (lead vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass, backing vocals), and Matt Thomas (drums, percussion). Considering the sonic booms that exploded through amps and speakers last night in New Haven, it’s seriously astonishing that just three musicians can make that much magic happen.
The Joy Formidable has been touring for their second full-length for quite some time now (there’s no question that Wolf’s Law is snagging a spot in TLW’s Top 10 this year). The album is exceptionally emotive, yet equally as aggressive; it’s artsy and meaningful; relatable, yet colossal. These juxtapositions only add to the band’s power and potential, and all of this goodness and more oozes throughout their live set.
Having now seen their show in venues both large (Madison Square Garden) and small, there really is no roof that these three can’t tear down. The band’s guitars are shrill and melodic, while Bryan and Dafydd’s harmonies perfectly complement the enormous sound. Simply put: The Joy Formidable can make a whole lot of beautiful noise.
Last night, the trio plowed through songs from both full-lengths, Wolf’s Law and 2011’s The Big Roar. In person, the sound is even larger than on record. The same can be said of Bryan’s vocals – the stage unleashes the rawness in her vocals, as her wide eyes widen even further to make her look borderline manic. She ping-pongs to both sides of the stage, dueling with Dafydd for a bit before heading over Thomas’s side to jam in front of his kit. (Thomas’s drums were set up on the right hand side of the stage. His drums faced his two bandmates instead of the crowd. Interesting!)
The pacing of the set was perfection – the rising and falling energy was quintessential of a band who completely understands how to control their own live experience. The ballad “Silent Treatment” was perfectly sandwiched between rockers like “Austere,” “This Ladder is Ours,” and “Maw Maw Song.” No surprise here, though. When you take a look at tracks like “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade” and “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie” (both of these also came out to play last night), one can clearly see that The Joy Formidable have mastered the perfect build – an amalgamation of power, sound, energy, and feeling until they allow it to burst at the seams. But only when they’re absolutely ready for it – controlling us, the audience, from up above. It’s all very puppet-mastery. For a band that’s only been around for five years, give or take, what these three accomplish on stage is remarkable.
Though they may not show all their cards up front if you just listen to the radio edit of “Whirring,” say, but make no mistake – The Joy Formidable’s piercing intensity is infectious and will burrow inside you until you’re ready to bow down.
It’s still a great time to be a Rock fan.
Surprise Goodies Giveaway! The Littlest Winslow has a free copy of Wolf’s Law to give away! The first person to either Tweet TLW or comment on this post on the Facebook Page will receive a free download code for the mp3 album. This begins…uhh…now. So don’t miss out!