The Joy Formidable, The Big Roar

Kevin O'Donnell

By Kevin O'Donnell

on 02.28.11 in Reviews

The Big Roar

The Joy Formidable

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.

Hook-centric pop formalists crank up the volume

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.