From the groovy opening salvo that is “Y Bluen Eira,” to the final notes of its sonic fraternal twin “Caught on a Breeze,” there is a razor-sharp edge to The Joy Formidable‘s latest album, Aaarth, which will remind fans of the Welsh rock trio’s glorious 2011 debut, The Big Roar, and that is something to crow about. The slick production of Wolf’s Law and the stripped-down quality of Hitch have been replaced this time around with a raw, fuzzy sonic quality that is at once unhinged and calculated in its delivery, ever-searching, yet assured. The entire album begs to be played outdoors beneath a starry sky at dusk, right down to the soundbites of cicadas singing in the intro to “Cicada (Land on Your Back),” like an offering to the universe.
Ritzy Bryan juxtaposes her rich, sometimes breathy vocals against her trademark abrasive guitar riffs to great effect on “On Loving,” but when she sends up those heaven-reaching chords in the second half of “All in All,” or on the album’s epic first single, “Dance of the Lotus,” the tone shifts dramatically, using the shoegazey-beautiful tones as a counterpoint to the harshness found throughout, and particularly on the more raucous portions of “The Better Me,” for example. And when the band adds in sparse, plinking keys in “Absence,” or goes for sonic squiggliness a few times throughout, the balance between everything sounding off-kilter and yet exactly right is uncanny.
Aaarth is a fantastic record whose sonic juggling act will give you chills.
Check out the latest single, “The Wrong Side”, by The Joy Formidable on YouTube below and do not forget to pre-order on their website to own the new album, Aaarth, out on September 28, 2018!
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