The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (Canvasback/Atlantic Records)


This Welsh trio have been picking up steam over the past few years; releasing a handful of well-received singles recalling the 1990s’ alternative boom. Now that they’ve finally released their debut album, The Big Roar, I hear a young band with room for improvement. The largest problem is that the album is exactly what the title claims – a big roar. I can’t remember another album so overstuffed with instruments and songs all trying as hard as possible to out-epic each other. I love the world-swallowing ambition, but The Big Roar is so overproduced and poorly paced that it sounds like a collection of crescendos loosely linked by songs. It’s best summed up by “Whirring”, their biggest single to date. If you heard the song on the radio or saw the video, it’s a splendid slice of classic indie-rock (and if you haven’t heard it, check it out). Concise and powerful at two-minutes and fifty-seconds, an undeniably catchy tune. However, on The Big Roar, it’s inexplicably pumped up to 6:47 with a new instrumental passage that’s as overindulgent as it is unnecessary. Even the album opener, “The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie”, ends with the kind of huge instrumental blowout most bands would reserve for the last song on an album. If they can learn nuance and balance, the world is theirs. Until then a better name might be The Potential Formidable.