The Joy Formidable’s songs are made for live performances. The wailing cascades of guitar riffs from Ritzy Bryan are matched with her prominent vocal presence, as drummer Matt Thomas blares the kick drum in rapid rhythm. This was the sound of their debut album, The Big Roar, and images of the band smashing their instruments and tearing up the stage were invoked by listening to the record alone. This is not the case with their latest album, Wolf’s Law, as the band’s characteristic roar of heavy British rock has now been watered down to a mere lull.
The majority of the record lacks the bite and grit that made The Big Roar stand out amongst other rock releases. If it weren’t for Bryan’s distinct voice, tracks such as “Silent Treatment” could be confused for those of an entirely different band, as acoustic strums replace the usual eccentric, distorted symphonies. Other tracks such as “The Hurdle” and “Tendons” employ an in-your-face bombardment of sound, but still don’t live up to the band’s potential. While these tracks aren’t necessarily unpleasant or bland, one can’t help but feel that the trio could have found a way to ignite the tracks into a fury like they had before.
Some songs still retain this fighting spirit, however. The pounding “Little Blimp” feels at home with the group, as their core elements of furious guitar, forceful drum beats and striking vocals project throughout the tune. Tracks “Cholla” and “Bats” follow in a similar manner, reminding the listener that this band still knows how to punch out your eardrums. If the album as a whole encompassed the spirit of these few songs, Wolf’s Law might have been able to stand on its own, instead of faltering in the shadow of its predecessor.