Album #329: The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

  • Released: 2011
  • Origin: Mold, Wales
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Best Track: A Heavy Abacus

There are two reasons why I’m reviewing this record. The first is that I’m surprised to find that I’ve done just one Welsh album on this blog so. far, putting the country behind Belarus and Mali in terms of entries.

The second is that it’s a great example of how long I can be “meaning” to listen to an album for. I loved the Joy Formidable’s ‘A Heavy Abacus’ when I first heard it and thought I must listen to the album. That will have been about a decade ago!

Their debut album The Big Roar (some will argue it’s compilation of their early tracks, but I’m calling it an album) will turn 10 years old in January. The anthemic ‘A Heavy Abacus’ makes for a splendid centrepiece for it – a euphoric slice of synthy dream-pop, carried by Ritzy Bryan with the Welshest vocals I’ve heard since Cerys Matthews. ‘Whirring’ almost sounds like part two of the song and is another magnificent din.

There are plenty of jewels on this album though, with its bookenders ‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie’ and ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’ both bangers. The breathy vocals of ‘Austere’ stand out, as does Rhydian Dafydd taking the lead vocals on ‘Llaw = Wall’ (“llaw” is apparently Welsh for “hand”).

A fine record, and better late than never to hear it.

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