Joy Formidable

Published on May 7th, 2013

joy-formidable600X239WOLF BLITZKRIEG
“The best part is over, and nothing I’m feeling is new,” Joy Formidable vocalist Ritzy Bryan sings on “The Turnaround,” towards the end of her band’s new album, Wolf’s Law. A falser statement could not be made about Joy Formidable itself, which, if Wolf’s Law is any indication, seems to want to reinvent the rock ‘n’ roll wheel with every record. Leaps and bounds ahead of the group’s 2011 debut The Big Roar, the album doesn’t hew nearly as faithfully to the band’s sonic forbears – the Breeders, Cocteau Twins, Belly – and inches the Joy Formidable closer to the kind of band other acts are compared to. Some of the credit must be reserved for producer Andy Wallace, whose work with Slayer, Sonic Youth and Nirvana helped shape the album’s mix of heaviness and artiness. Ditto for the secluded cabin in the woods in Maine where the Joy Formidable spent a week writing Wolf’s Law, sans Wi-Fi and telephone, alone with their ideas, creative juices flowing like sap from the trees outside.

At any rate, the band’s advanced growth and complexity are best distilled by three tracks in the middle of the album: The frenzied punk bombast of “Bats” gives way to the arresting acoustic lighter-waver “Silent Treatment,” which ushers in the assaulting “Maw Maw Song,” with head-banging riffs that not a far cry from Black Sabbath. “Cholla” and “Forest Serenade,” meanwhile, have the same instant-hit infectiousness that made “Whirring” one of the most exciting songs of 2010. Bookended by orchestral surprises and filled with twinkly interludes, shredding solos and other unexpected bridges, Wolf’s Law is masterful. It’s safe to say the best part is definitely not over, with the hardworking North Wales trio stopping at the Culture Room May 7, where they’ll bring along Los Angeles indie rockers Io Echo. The band’s set lists have been seemingly short on this tour, clocking in at around 14 songs, but expect to hear extended, emphatic versions of album tracks that already inch toward the 7-minute mark. Tickets are $15 at ticketmaster.com.
 ~John Thomason

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