It seems like just yesterday that the Welsh alt-rock juggernaut The Joy Formidable made a big splash with their full length debut, "The Big Roar." Time flies, and the trio certainly have no intentions of resting on their laurels, as evidenced by the strength of their heavily anticipated follow-up effort, "Wolf's Law." Wider in scope than its powerful predecessor, "Wolf's Law" finds the group expanding their horizons even further than before and subsequently dipping into unchartered waters.
While the band could have taken the easy way out and hired a big rock producer to squeeze out the inevitable hits, The Joy Formidable have taken the path less travelled and produced their second affair on their own. The results are an album that doesn't feel the slightest bit restrained or compromised. "Wolf's Law" plays to the strength of each band member and as such, carries such a variety of material that there's something for just about everyone.
The album opens with the hard-hitting instant favorite, "This Ladder Is Ours." In this one song, The Joy Formidable renew their mission statement of delivering big, epic choruses with even bigger riffs and a blazing rhythm section. Later album tracks such as "Cholla" and the Zeppelin-esque "Maw Maw Song" rock just as hard as their "Big Roar" counterparts while adding a new dimension. Mellower cuts such as the folksy "Silent Treatment" and album closer "Turnaround" show off front-lady Ritzy Bryan's more vulnerable side with compositions that serve to let her voice sit at the forefront rather than competing for airtime with her band-mates as well as her own guitar. Quirky and up-beat rockers such as "Little Blimp" and the absolutely addictive "Bats" spring up throughout the album to remind us of why the band were so compelling in the first place. Somehow they were able to rock massive arenas in 2011 opening for Foo Fighters, which is an accomplishment for such a young group. To that end, The Joy Formidable doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon.
While it may not be as instantly gratifying as its predecessor, "Wolf's Law" is certainly an album that rewards repeat listening. Not every song is an instant hit (there are plenty of those scattered about, to be sure) but each one has something unique to offer, showing immense growth from a band who probably could have hit instant radio-gold by simply recording "The Big Roar Pt. II: Electric Boogaloo." Truly a band to be on the lookout for, The Joy Formidable are likely to bring joy to their listeners while simultaneously proving to be a formidable opponent to like-minded groups everywhere.
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