The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar album review

The Joy Formidable The Big Roar

The Big Roar is the first full length album released by The Joy Formidable, a three-piece Welsh band. Dropped on March 15, 2011, the album features several songs that were previously released on their 2009 mini-debut entitled A Balloon Called Moaning.

The trio is made up of energetic front woman Ritzy Bryan on guitar and lead vocals, Rhydian Dafydd playing bass guitar and singing backup, and percussionist Matt Thomas. Old friends from school, Bryan and Dafydd have worked together on other projects like Tricky Nixon and Sidecar Kisses. This partnership is no doubt one of the reasons why Big Roar is such a cohesive and exciting piece.

The opening number called “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie” clocks in at just under eight minutes long and serves as an epic anthem kicking off the post-punk indie sound that prevails on this album. Bryan’s no-nonsense vocal delivery fits quite well with the loud garage riffs and conveys the fairly emotional lyrics in a fresh way.

Track three was the first single to be released off the album. “I Don’t Want To See You Like This” is basically just another break up song. Thankfully, not all their singles were as typical. “Austere” was a re-release from the Balloon EP which is a definite toe-tapper and perhaps one of the most catchy, pop influenced tunes on Big Roar. The other re-release, “Whirring,” begins decently with a nice hook, but a little bit later on around the two and a half minute mark the instrumentation eventually devolves to a glorified jam session.

Song lengths seem to be at odds as the referentially Japanese eighth track, “Maruyama,” is barely two minutes which does not work in its favor. There’s simply no need for it to be present on this album. The track is too short to develop into anything and fades away before its prime.

However, “Cradle,” which is yet another track taken from Balloon, is the most compelling example of how powerful the bands’ mixture of tough grungey guitar, militantly accurate percussion, and emotive storytelling can be.