Review: The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law
Published on January 25th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
If there is a point to The Joy Formidable, it must be their ability to polish a turd: throw a bunch of substanceless stadium rock clichés into a bowl, stabilise with agreeably double-tracked vocals and diverting production touches, simmer rockingly for about forty minutes. At the end of it all, you have a good-looking pie but there’s still turd in the middle.
Rocksucker apologises; there are far worse musical crimes than The Joy Formidable being committed every day, but it seems that once again the world has gathered secretly and conferred ‘credible’ status upon a mediocre band without consulting us. Well, of course that kind of thing is not ours to decide, but it bloody well should be.
That way, we wouldn’t have bands combining recent-vintage Smashing Pumpkins with Garbage posturing and Sound of Guns-esque anthemry, and it being championed as any kind of triumph for anything or anyone. The musicianship? Aye, very good. Ritzy Bryan’s voice? Like we said, most agreeable, sultry and airy in the right sorts of ways. The songs themselves? About as necessary as [insert object or activity based upon your own impression of what would constitute deeply unnecessary].
Basically, this is widescreen bluster-rock that does a decent-ish job of disguising the bluster, at least until it wells up cumulatively after six or seven tracks and you find yourself realising that – now hold on for one doggone minute – there are about a thousand other bands doing more or less the same thing.
Wolf’s Law may be tarted up by a number of admittedly nice touches, but it always ends up back in the same place; witness for instance the swipes of staccato sting and “woo oo” backing vocals that add up to a promising start to “Forest Serenade”, before launching into some sludge-rock facsimile of every other track on the album (bar the obligatory acoustic ballad “Silent Treatment”, and closing power-ballad “The Turnaround”).
“I’ve got a voice but the cushion keeps holding me back” sings Bryan on “Bats”, and if she replaced the word ‘cushion’ with ‘The Joy Formidable’ then she might have a point. You might by now have cottoned onto the fact that Rocksucker don’t really get the appeal of this lot. Fair dos and all that.
Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!
Wolf’s Law is out now on Atlantic. For more information, please visit thejoyformidable.com