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Tuesday, 12 February 2013 10:15

Charting the Music: The Joy Formidable, 'Wolf's Law'

Charting the Music: The Joy Formidable, 'Wolf's Law' facebook.com/thejoyformidable
Written by Travis Dettmann
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A female-fronted triad explores dynamics with orchestral arrangements and several stomp boxes. "Wolf's Law" penetrates the mainstream and just might launch the Joy Formidable from small-club fame to arena stardom.

The Joy Formidable fuses various bowed and plucked strings and trembling timpani along with its signature power-trio formula. "Wolf's Law" is much like the band's debut release, but pumped up with fresh sounds.

88.1 KDHX Chart Position: #5 CMJ Top 30 for the week of February 5, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: Atlantic Records released "Wolf's Law" on January 22, 2013; it was produced by the Joy Formidable.

Can be heard on: Juxtaposition with Rob Levy, Wax Lyrical with Caron and the Mixtape with Jason Robinson.

RIYL: Metric, Muse and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Hometown: North Wales, U.K.

Standout Tracks: The addictive opener, "The Ladder Is Ours," hits you like a sucker punch to the face. The acoustic ballad, "Silent Treatment," provides an intermission for your ears to take a much needed rest. The Shiny Toy Guns-esque track "Maw Maw Song" contains a healthy blend of distortion and thunderous sequencing.

About the artist: In 2003, Rhydian Dafydd and Ritzy Bryan was half of the indie quartet known as Tricky Nixon; when the group burned out, Sidecar Kisses quickly rose from its ashes. The group disbanded, making the Joy Formidable the third group to form within the decade. After hopping from label to label and a expanding fan base, the Joy Formidable sought refuge under the label giant Atlantic Records.

Play it while: Getting over a nasty breakup.

Album art: The vibrant yet morbid cover of "Wolf's Law" illustrates nature's life cycle. The deceased wolf's torso sprouts flowers from which a hummingbird takes a sip against a sunset background. The cover's designer, Martin Wittfooth, has also created paintings that have graced the cover of various magazines: the April 2009 issue of BL!SSS, the April/May 2011 issue of Hi-Fructose and the October 2012 issue of American Artist.

Awards and accolades: In 2011, The Joy Formidable's debut "The Big Roar" peaked at 8th on the "US Billboard Heatseekers" list and 31st on the "UK Albums Chart." The second achievement, "Wolf's Law," reached 5th on the "Billboard Tastemaker Albums," 11th on the "Billboard Alternative Albums" and 51st on the "Billboard 200" in 2013.

What the critics say: "The Joy Formidable's sophomore effort 'Wolf's Law' arrives without the benefit of multiple rough drafts. And yet 'Wolf's Law' sounds like it's been worked over even more extensively, though not necessarily in a way that makes it more commercial. If anything, 'Wolf's Law' is a weirder, proggier record that explores a wider range of textures and sounds than the relatively monochromatic 'Roar.'" -- Steven Hyden, Pitchfork.

Playing in St. Louis: The Joy Formidable will perform on April 1, 2013 at Pop's with Guards and Kitten.

KDHX coverage: Meghan McGlynn and Dustin Winter reviewed and photographed (respectively) the Joy Formidable's concert at the Firebird in 2011.

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