Genre: Alternative Rock/Shoegazing
Producer: The Joy Formidable
Released: March 25, 2016
The Welsh trio The Joy Formidable has a history of combining gritty grunge, shoegazing drone and infectious stadium anthem hooks. Both of their previous albums were studies in the different extremes of that combination of sound: the debut The Big Roar was, as the name implies, a bit too noisy and drowned in distortion for its own good; the follow-up Wolf’s Law went to the other end of the pool with almost overproduced, sleek and orchestral production. Now, on their third album Hitch the trio has seemingly found the balance between the gleam and the grime.
It’s not as if the Joy Formidable was trying to reinvent the wheel in any shape or form. The major building blocks are still the old familiar ones: the wall-of-distortion guitars, the energetic drumming, singer Ritzy Bryan’s instantly recognizable voice. These are all things that have been heard before, but now it seems that for the first time the Joy has been seamlessly merged with the Formidable, while simultaneously trimming some the most superfluous frills. The catchy “Radio of Lips” and the mid-tempo lead single “The Last Thing On My Mind” both demonstrate the best of both worlds of the trio’s discography, with rough production and occasional moments of pristine clarity complimenting each other. Unfortunately the otherwise great tracks slightly overstay their welcome, as if the band was not quite sure how to end the tracks, so they went with the Return of the King route and used them all. One of the album highlights is the almost balladlike “The Brook”, which combines vaguely oriental plucking instruments with otherwise Western-themed soundscape. “Blowing Fire” features one of the band’s simplest and catchiest riffs, and the album closer “Don’t Let Me Know” starts off a soothing ballad before growing into synth-laden post-rock crescendo.
As the time-tried cliché goes, sometimes the third time indeed is the charm. After experimenting with different approaches on their two previous albums The Joy Formidable manage to fruitfully refine their sound into a concise, functional whole. This makes Hitch a natural extension of their previous work and their best album yet.