If Courtney Love went to etiquette class and got guitar lessons from My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, her resulting band would sound a lot like Joy Formidable. Fronted by pixie-cute, bottle-blonde, 26-year-old Ritzy Bryan, the Welsh trio brings back the dense, fuzz-bombed wall of noise of early '90s alterna acts like My Bloody Valentine and Ride, and their long-in-the-works full-length debut album offers a far more thrilling revivalist ride than contemporary noise freaks like Yuck and Male Bonding.
When Bryan sings, "Simple words are growing vague," on opening stunner "The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie," it's meant as a war cry. The Joy Formidable's sound is all about guitars: Bryan delivers maximal power-chords, saturated in fuzz, occasionally drowned out by feedback from amps that are dangerously cranked into the red. Her rhythm section rocks plenty, too: bassist (and Bryan's boyfriend) Rhydian Dafydd packs plenty of low-end, gut-rattling punch, while drummer Matthew Thomas unleashes furious punk grooves with the precision of Dave Grohl.
Despite the volume, Joy Formidable are hook-centric pop formalists at heart. "Cradle" features irresistible ooh-oohs amid its turbulent power chords, while "Don't Want to See You Like This" could be mistaken for a tossed-off tune from Avril Lavigne's favorite songwriting pros the Matrix. But it's the band's joyful noise that demands repeated attention — especially on "Whirring," which builds into a monster, seven-minute epic. Wear earplugs.