By Josh Terzino
With South By Southwest quickly approaching, and my time to listen and evaluate things before all the fun begins dwindles, I’ve decided to run this even though the album doesn’t drop for another week and I didn’t ask permission from anyone to go early with it.
I doubt anyone would mind, though, since I have nothing but good things to say about The Joy Formidable‘s newest release, The Big Roar. If you were a fan of last years A Balloon Called Moaning EP, then you will enjoy this thoroughly. Mainly because almost every song from that EP is included on this disc, but also because the newer songs seem to take a step directly from the overall feel of that record.
Of the new additions, “I Don’t Want To See You Like This” is the obvious choice for best song. I really enjoyed it when they played that one at Schuba‘s back in November, and fully realized with production it’s fantastic.
The new album also allows for Rhydian to sing a bit more. He’s the featured vocalist on the track “Llaw=Wall,” and it adds a nice contrast to the rest of the album that mostly features Ritzy Bryan on lead vocals with Rhydian drifting in and out of the background.
Other than that, the album is almost exactly what I’ve come to expect from TJF. Lots of in-your-face guitars and bass. Effects all over the place on the stringed instruments and on the vocals. I remember being quite surprised seeing them live and hearing them be able to just about pull off the sound of their recording on stage. Phil Specter would be proud to hear the ridiculous wall of sound this band creates.
The most surprising thing about The Big Roar is the drumming of Matt Thomas. On a lot of A Balloon Called Moaning, his percussion is drowned in the production, but here he is brought to the forefront on almost every track. He provides a constant (like Desmond and Daniel Faraday) for the band to fall back on when Ritzy and Rhydian are going crazy, reaching for the stars while Matt’s feet are firmly on the ground.
So, if you liked the original release from The Joy Formidable, I’d definitely suggest grabbing this one. It’s a fuller, more nuanced version of the EP. The songwriting is improved on the new songs, but that was never an issue with these Welsh rockers.