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The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law review

The Joy Formidable’s second full-length record, “Wolf’s Law,” is an exaggerated interpretation of alternative rock, each track more bombastic and grandiose than the last. Though the band shows great technical skill in the layering and lyrical qualities of the songs, ideas are heaped on top of one another without being fully fleshed out, giving the album a disjointed, confused vibe.

The first track, “This Ladder is Ours,” opens with a very cinematic, dramatic instrumental lead-in that builds up to a more classic rock climax. The rest of the song is a battle between the instruments and Ritzy Bryan’s vocals to see which can be the loudest for no apparent reason. That is my biggest issue with this album—the vocals and instrumentation never seem to be in sync, instead working against each other in a frenetic mess.

On “Tendons,” the juxtaposition of the heavy, prog-rock melody and Bryan’s ethereal vocals only serve to make the guitars sound even more severe and Bryan even more delicate, instead of the two fusing together into complimentary variances in one body. “The Hurdle” was the bright spot of the album for me, its frenzied, guitar-driven chorus grounded in lighter, more minimalist breaks. Though this track contains much of the same methodology as the rest of the album, it gives the audience something familiar and easy to hold on to as well.

“Bats” uses distortion effects to create a hard rock sound with a futuristic edge, though the execution leaves a bit to be desired. The song wants to be gritty and grungy, but the production is almost too perfect. Bryan’s vocals are too controlled, the instrumentation too purposely chaotic. When the songs don’t make sense standing alone, it’s even harder for them to build each other up into a cohesive story. “Wolf’s Law” isn’t The Joy Formidable’s most able effort, a victim of their unedited, unrestrained take on alternative, progressive rock.

By Natalie Howard

In a fit of teenage angst, Natalie Howard moved from Glendale, CA to New York City for college. She stuck around after graduation and currently eats and sleeps in the East Village.

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