The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (2011 LP)

Welsh trio The Joy Formidable have been taking the world by storm with their massive grungy, guitar driven rock. Their debut LP The Big Roar, has been a long time in the works and the resulting sound is a testament to the bands brute force and chaotic beauty of their live performances.

The Big Roar opens with a minute of industrial clamour and hazy guitar before Ritzy Bryan’s vocals kick in and “The Ever Changing Spectrum Of A Lie” takes off into a seven minute jam that was made to be thrashed onstage. “The Magnifying Glass” continues in much the same way, with Bryan’s vocals at times being overpowered by the fierce riffs and frenetic drum lines.

Singles “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”, “Austere” and “Whirring” are all fantastic examples of The Joy Formidable’s song writing prowess and their seamless ability to meld traditional pop sensibilities with a darker, heavier edge and world weary, irony laden lyrics. “Whirring” in particular is one of the strongest tracks on the album with its catchy hook and rocking sing-along chorus that ends in another whirlwind of ballsy instrumental schizophrenia that was born from their live improv sessions.

The Big Roar remains true to the band’s love of soaring live instrumental jams but sadly it fails to deliver the same intense energy and excitement that The Joy Formidable’s live show is renowned for. Tracks such as “Cradle” and “Chapter 2” are marred by Bryan’s love of fuzzy guitar mess that is predominant throughout the record and becomes an all to familiar presence as it overwhelms the rest of the arrangements and washes out the vocals.

The Big Roar is a solid record that holds many a fantastic rock moment, but the power of The Joy Formidable lies in their amazing live presence and this hasn’t translated into their studio work. This is music that was made to be enjoyed loud and live. Pray to whatever God you believe in that the band will be back on our shores for another round of blistering performances in the near future.

Review Score: 7/10