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The Big Roar
The Joy Formidable The Big Roar
Released 21 January 2011

The Joy Formidable,
Neak Menter
Label Canvasback/Atlantic
Length 49:53
Genre Altenative, indie
Website www.thejoyformidable.com

The Big Roar must be coming from a festival crowd. Because, after the irritating cacophony of the opening minute, The Joy Formidable present an album of festival stocking-fillers. The sleek swell of some of these songs, with their anthemic choruses and impassioned sing-a-longs, brings to mind festival favourites such as Snow Patrol and The Arcade Fire.

There are a few little effects thrown into the mix to anchor the album in personal experience, but a snippet of laughter at the beginning of 'The Magnifying Glass', and a typewriter (last heard on Prodigy’s Music For The Jilted Generation) on 'Chapter 2' can’t shake the feeling that these songs are being sung to a howling mob at the Glastonbury festival. Not even the inclusion of the quite, poetry-reading of 'Maruyama', of the substitution of Ritzy Bryan’s rock chick vocals on 'Llaw=Wall' with those of a moody, downcast male can break the spell.

It’s not that those songs are filler. If anything they serve to punctuate the rousing crowd-pleasers, and stop the album feeling uniform and monotonous– although there is little danger of that. 'Austere' is bright and breezy, 'Cradle' expresses Cranberries-style neuroses, and 'Buoy' is glacial and feels as though it were recorded in an ice cave; but they are all fated to be blasted from a stage into a returning blast of earnest, tipsy emoting.

The Joy Formidable know what they’re doing, and there ought to be no surprise in hearing them over the course of the summer. But beyond that, this album is designed for longevity. The title hints at Tears For Fears’ The Hurting and Songs from the Big Chair, as well as that group’s 'Shout'; and the inlay card is inscribed with the Parisian motto: Fluctuat nec Mergitur– She is tossed by the waves, but she does not sink/merge. Such echoes of, and statements in favour of, the individual experience can ensure that The Big Roar will last beyond festival season. Coupled with those big group hugs, however, The Joy Formidable seem set on Muse-like stardom.

- Paul McGranaghan