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The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar | Album review

With a sweet and awestruck voice, Ritzy Bryan sings like she’s standing atop a cliff, thrilled to be alive. Like few other bands kicking around, the Joy Formidable can make me feel the same.

The Joy Formidable

Billy Corgan hardly needs more reasons to hang up his guitar and start an organic farm. Zack Snyder has already moved on to using Smashing Pumpkins clones, the Silversun Pickups, in his film trailers. Whimpering little twee bands like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are using the Mellon Collie production team to express their own infinite sadness. And the Joy Formidable is simply killing everyone when it comes to the Corgan sort of muscular dream-rock.

Much of The Big Roar may have appeared last year on the trio’s debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, but that dry run has been proven irrelevant. The Welsh act seemingly has been snorting gunpower, shooting HGH and blowing its life savings on amplifiers and effects pedals. The Big Roar sounds massive, improbably huge for a three-piece fronted by the adorable Ritzy Bryan, in her white bob and doll dresses. Bryan coaxes gargantuan blasts from her guitar—waterfall rumbles, rocket exhausts and skin-pimpling windstorms. Meanwhile, Matt Thomas tries to punch a hole in his toms and snares.

The rebuilt “Whirring” has bulked up from a happy shoegazer ditty to feeling like being pushed out of a plane alongside a bliss-racket-crafting Sonic Youth and lullaby-cooing Björk. “The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade” epically nails the loud-quiet dynamic with hair-raising results, while “Austere” erupts like Muse minus the pompous operatics.

With a sweet and awestruck voice, Bryan sings as if she’s standing atop a cliff, thrilled to be alive. Like few other bands kicking around, the Joy Formidable can make me feel the same.

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