It’s been three years since alt-rock trio The Joy Formidable released a full length album; and they’ve finally broken their musical silence with their latest effort, Hitch.
For those who adored the band’s 2013 release, Wolf’s Law; Hitch will aptly fill The Joy Formidable-shaped void. The rocky grandeur on previous singles ‘Cholla’ and ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ is replicated on new songs ‘Radio Of Lips’ and ‘Running Hands With The Night’; both tracks rip and roar in a similar fashion for six minutes each. Opener ‘A Second In White’ is an impassioned epiphany set to riotous trademark riffs, and thunderous drums and celebrates fleeting moments of clarity – “Move aside, it’s not gonna stay…”
‘The Last Thing On My Mind’ – the first single released from Hitch earlier this year – is pre-empted by a short recording of the trio messing around, before the voice of vocalist and guitarist, Ritzy Bryan, takes command: “Right, give us a count in!”. On her cue, Rhydian Daffyd’s fuzzy bass line kicks in and dominates the track. ‘Liana’ slows things down, as Ritzy sublimely stutters “Be brave like ev…like everyone expects you to be”, before revving things up again at the close; her distinctive guitar sound prevailing in an extensive outro. Each band member takes a moment to individually shine on this record; drummer Matt Thomas stuns with his opening solo on ‘It’s Started’ – giving the song’s title new meaning – and Rhydian takes the lead on vocals on ‘The Gift’; his smooth voice complimenting the sensitive lyrics.
Images of nature inform many of the band’s songs (Wolf’s Law explores the regenerative qualities of the body and the environment) and acoustic led track ‘The Brook’ follows in this trend. ‘Fog (Black Windows)’ and ‘Underneath The Petal’ also use natural images to explore the ambiguity of human emotion, whilst ‘Blowing Fire’ explores the hollow but powerful impact of unresolved anger.
Whilst Hitch remains faithful to the band’s intense, individual sound; it lacks the rawness of their earlier releases. For those who favour the band’s 2009 EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, and debut album The Big Roar (2011) – Hitch may be the apple that’s fallen just shy of the grand Joy Formidable-shaped tree. Fans may lament the absence of a track equivalent to the incredible ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’, or the epically wild ‘Whirring’. Ultimately, on Hitch‘s aptly named closing track, ‘Don’t Let Me Know’, Ritzy muses about forgiveness and a “new beginning” – and this is what the trio have accomplished with their new record.
Hitch is out now via Atlantic Records.