Music Review: The Joy Formidable | The Big Roar (2011)

The Joy Formidable are a band that have been around for a few years but recently they’ve started to get more and more attention thanks largely due to word of mouth. Over the past year or so they’ve been hitting up festival after festival from Glastonbury to Coachella to Reading/Leeds to Lollapalooza. Even though they’ve always been slotted near the beginning of the day at these festivals, they make sure to put on a memorable performance each time so that attendees can ask their friends/go on message boards and say “Did anyone else see The Joy Formidable? Holy crap”. It certainly doesn’t hurt that some of the people talking about them are names as big as Dave Grohl and Hayley Williams.

When The Big Roar is at its best, all of that hype is completely justified. Their music is unlike just about any other band going today — there’s a wall of sound that is reminiscent of shoegaze groups such as My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive except the vocals in The Big Roar are much clearer and catchier. This is almost pop-shoegaze. Some of the tracks on this album are just flat-out incredible, such as “Whirring”, “A Heavy Abacus”, “Cradle”, and “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade”.

Unfortunately for every song that’s amazing on this album there’s one where I’m completely indifferent to it. There are some tracks where they go the more traditional alternative rock route and while it’s certainly passable there’s nothing really remarkable about it. As far as I’m concerned with The Joy Formidable, the louder the guitar the better. This album just really isn’t that consistent throughout.

My rating for this album is a bit lower than the rating I’d give this band in general. They’re an immensely talented young trio and their live performances are much better than the (already very good) music they make in the studio. There’s no doubt in my mind that The Joy Formidable will eventually release an album that I’ll give a 9.0 or above — they just aren’t there yet.

Rating: 7.25/10

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