“I had a reason but the reason went away,” Ritzy Bryan, frontwoman of Welsh rock group Joy Formidable, sings on “Bats,” amid dense cluster-bombs of distorted riffs and clanging drums. “We keep hanging on, we keep hanging on, we keep hanging on…”
It’s a deeply poignant moment for Bryan, and one of the most striking on her band’s terrific, noisy follow-up to their breakout debut The Big Roar. Over the last 10 years, Bryan has endured no shortage of personal strife: Her parents have been embroiled in a long, drawn-out divorce, which, she has said, caused her to grow estranged from them. What’s more, her grandfather passed away while they were recording in an isolated cabin in Maine.
Not surprisingly, Bryan channels her personal turmoil all over Wolf’s Law, which refers to a 19th-century medicinal law about an animal’s uncanny ability to adapt to injury. The album features raucous anthems that mix My Bloody Valentine-style amp death with Bryan’s assured, loud-and-clear howling.
While nothing matches the epic reach of their six-minute breakout “Whirring,” Joy Formidable show a breathless energy over 50 minutes, particularly on “Maw Maw Song,” which veers from a Led Zep-style stomp into a steady, pulsing jam worthy of Neu!. As Joy Formidable prove, sometimes the best way to deal with the awful shit in your life is to strap on a guitar and crank up the noise.