The Joy Formdiable - Hitch
The Joy Formidable must be looking at Wolf Alice and thinking why them? They share so many similarities but fate has it that whilst Wolf Alice are hailed by the NME and play-listed on BBC Radio One the Welsh trio are playing to smaller crowds and struggle to get much airplay, though they do better than many other UK bands across the pond.
Yet as the buzz surrounding TFJ has dulled down from a big to a little roar the band have actually become more in the live arena and on record. Hitch continues their upwards projection in moving their sound into a kind of prog-grunge genre (Ed: Is that a genre?). The album still has the fundamentals of their early sound, melodic riffs, powerful rhythm section and the distinctive vocals of Ritzy Bryan. They have been compared to The Smashing Pumpkins in the past and much like the Chicago band they have shifted from the rawer early sounds and are now incorporating new textures and instrumentation (even a flute) to test their creativity and keep their fans on their toes. TJF even flirted with the idea of a double album whilst making Hitch.
The pounding opener 'A Second in White'suggests it's business as usual - three minutes off fuzzing joy, but from stadium rock anthem of Radio of Lips' onward the radio-friendly rockers become rare and make way for the six minute rock epics like current single 'The Last Thing on My Mind' (including Rhydian Davies stunning bass riffs). 'Liana' and 'The Brook' create a much needed sense of calm, the former's chorus could fit easily on a Bat For Lashes album. 'It Started' has Matthew Thomas beat the crap out of his kit before a Muse-ite riff but could really have faired better with an edited down version which can be the bugbear throughout the album. Too many of the tracks go on for far longer than they need to without adding anything more to the song. Oasis' Be Here Now could have done without the endless guitar solos and over-repeated choruses and Hitchcould do with the same treatment, which can be a downside to many self-produced albums. That aside the record has some truly breathtaking moments like the folk-rock of 'Underneath the Petal' and 'Don't Let Me Know' and 'Running With the Night' are full of bombastic charm... if slightly too long.
This third album is slightly less shoe-gaze than Wolfs' Law and The Joy Formidable are far better when they let choruses explode and their guitars are at their melodically loudest. They are a band who like to test themselves and with the right producer they could be onto a winner.