The Joy Formidable
‘Wolf's Law’ (Atlantic)
Recommended TrackCholla, Maw Maw Song, The Turnaround
So the story goes: When Dave Grohl first heard The Joy Formidable’s dizzying single, ‘Whirring’, he hummed its melody all the way home so he could look up the Welsh trio. It’s an anecdote which goes some way towards illustrating just how – for those with a propensity to rock – infectious and irresistible the band’s pop-metal aesthetic is.
Their debut, ‘The Big Roar’, a high-flown amalgam of pyrotechnic riffs and addictive pop melodies, was so seductive that it scored them a Top 40 album-chart position and an American tour with the Foo Fighters.
Now they return with ‘Wolf’s Law’, hunted by every burgeoning band’s worst nightmare: Difficult Second Album Syndrome. But they’re quick to dispel doubts on openers ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ and ‘Cholla’, owing to their crackling riffs, Ritzy Bryan’s ethereal vocals and Matt Thomas’s strapping, metal-ish drums.
Production-wise, little has changed since ‘The Big Roar’. The studio remains the band’s fourth member and their wind-tunnel intensity is a constant. The compositions are more focused this time round, however, while quiet-loud dynamic shifts are more arresting. The spare, beautiful acoustica of ‘Silent Treatment’ sits side-by-side with their heaviest cut yet, ‘Maw Maw Song’, an eastern-inflected stomp-a-long whose opening riff out-roars that of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Godzilla’. Still, despite the album’s much-welcomed experimentation – see the Beatles-like orchestration of ‘The Turnaround’ – you still feel the best is yet to come from this riveting trio.