Ritzy Bryan – one hell of a cool name.
The first few listens of the new full-length from the Welsh trio The Joy Formidable, Wolf’s Law, reveal a fuzzy-filled rock gem just waiting to be heard (or in this case, released). Second records can go one of two ways: either you start strong and the sophomore release simply falls short of expectations, or the opposite happens. There are the rare instances where the debut is strong and well-received, in a sense, placing the artist/band on this pedestal. From there, they ignore history and further plunge themselves into musical genius.
For starters, I should express the fact that I was not a huge fan of The Big Roar. That being said, it was, as previously mentioned, well-received. Taking that into account, and pushing aside all bias and opinion, the sophomore release, in this particular instance, driving itself (or the band, I should say) further into the stratosphere – well that’s both breathtaking and rare.
Getting back to my original statement and going a little further than saying I enjoy Bryan’s name – she is making it a real chore to not mention her name with the other big-time female fronts.
Moving on, the trio has really pushed all of my good buttons with this one. Rewinding a bit, it does have its similarities to The Big Roar (distorted guitars, lofting arena-type atmosphere), but the 2013 record is both heavier and not, all at once. “Bats” is probably the most explosive track on the album; it truly sets itself apart from anything they have done previously. The debut track “This Ladder Is Ours” displays similar fashion, and watching the video to it, you really get the feel.
In one instance, they display this Queens Of The Stone Age-esque type of spectacle – soaring and using that momentum to carry Bryan’s delicate vocals. It is a strange balance that they use, the heavy distortion, but Bryan stands firm and truly represents the sound better than one would imagine. And so, in the next instance, tracks like “Silent Treatment” and “The Turnaround” fill their listeners with acoustics and a beautiful orchestra. The hidden track (title track) is what really drives the nail into the coffin (in a good way, that is). Piano-backed and outrageously simple – simple being the key term here – it is extremely different and out of the ordinary for the trio. The storyteller in Bryan truly comes shining through with this finale. Honestly, it is clear and vivid throughout the record, but this just feels so much more intimate and passionate.
There are definitely moments where the drudge of the instrumentation is relentless, and so it becomes a bit overbearing. Not to say that they shouldn’t stay true to their roots, nor should they miraculously turn over a new leaf simply to please this critic. The fact that they pushed away from those elements in a few distinct spots can only help them in my opinion. Which they did, and for that, I show my gratitude.
Honestly, this review comes with a sincere breath of freshness – maybe not air, but it is something fresh – can’t quite put my finger on it at this point. Perhaps, I will get back to you on that? All I can say is, 2013 has already seen its ups and downs; I’m just glad this third week (is it?), for the time being, is on the up-and-up.
For Those Who Like: Queens Of The Stone Age’s Lullabies To Paralyze – The Naked And Famous’ Passive Me, Aggressive You – Young The Giant’s Self-Titled