The Joy Formidable: The Big Roar

The Joy Formidable are a three piece who manage to sound like a much bigger band. Songs that remind you of a single from one of the bands at the poppier end of grunge circa 1993 are worked into enormous, epic and occasionally frantic tracks. Some reviews suggest they’re a band who’ve come out of nowhere; I’m not so sure. I suppose some of it could be described as dream pop though I don’t think they look at their feet. I’m just a sucker for noisy, occasionally discordant songs you can whistle; always have been.

Some of the strengths of this record, their first full-length release, are clearly a consequence of the careful development of the music. Releasing an eight track EP (A Balloon Called Moaning – one of my top 10 in 2009) and then playing these songs through a couple of tours while maintaining a strong DIY ethos seems to have allowed the band to refine the songs that would become this album. Half of the EP tracks reappear here to form the backbone of the album, including one – ‘Whirring’ – that is nearly twice as long as the original version. I suspect this is the way it’s developed live – bet they close their set with it – and it sounds magnificent so who cares. Elsewhere newer songs like ‘Buoy’ and ‘Maruyama’ provide something of a change of pace, though obviously it’s going to take a while to get to know these tracks and initially it doesn’t sound like there’s anything as striking as the four from Balloon amongst them.

Here’s the older version of ‘Whirring’ as a taster (the album version is superior in every way), and a cracking video performance of ‘Austere’ as a bonus. The band have a website here – you can buy The Big Roar there too.

Whirring‘ – The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar


About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on February 12, 2011, in Album reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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