Coming off of an eventful SxSW, the Joy Formidable is trying to carry momentum into the year and the summer festival season by bringing their powerhouse live show to new audiences. Their latest release, The Big Roar, is one helluvan album to tour behind.
It starts with an epic 7 minute long track that builds to crescendo and serves as a warning that the trio means business. “The Magnifying Glass” starts with some odd samples, feedback and random banging. I love it, it sorts out into awesome understated verses and transitions to power choruses that I love about this band. Just to keep the averages proper, the next track is short and sweet; “The Magnifying Glass” is all of 2:19 long.
Track three is a personal favorite, “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”. Ritzy Brian has the job of providing the haunting back vocals during the loud moments that creates tenderness in noise. The following track is likely the most recognizable and popular track; it is the first of four that appear on A Balloon Called Moaning. “Austere” starts with the falsetto cries of Ritzy and transitions for a level of disorder to power chord bliss. One of their best live tunes, loved it all the way.
“A Heavy Abacus” is a “slow track”, evolving without being a jam song and a bit noisy at times with a clean finish. I am a bit curious why the Abacus is watching her. “Whirring” is the next of the Balloon tracks and again, you should recognize it immediately if you know of this band. “Buoy” has a very cool climbing and descending chord structure that draws you in and bridges the first verses beautifully. Again, a bit of a slower tempo to this new track, but not any weaker, light breaks, heavy drum track finish, *chirp*…
“Maruyama” serves as an intermission before another old-new song called “Cradle”. “I can see he says what he means, We’ll deal him sticks and stones and apologies, I wish…it was through”. “My vicious tongue cradles just one”. Love it.
“Llaw=Wall” is the departure track. Rhydian Dafydd sings lead on this one, nary a guitar for the first half until the track erupts. “Chapter 2” returns to a more punk progresson and Ritzy belting over bass lines and a strong drumming from Matt Thomas.
To close things out is the final track from the previous release and if you don’t love “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Love”, I don’t even know you anymore.
The Big Roar is an interesting mix of the best tracks from “A Balloon Called Moaning” and new material that is more complex in some ways, a complete departure in others. Being a best of old and new, it should to be limited to a 3.5 IMHO, but the recent sets at SxSW push it to the 4 star status.