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Barely noticed outside their native UK, nonexistent in charts anywhere, released on the tiniest of record labels (Black Bell Records has only released one album, this one), The Joy Formidable don’t seem to care. They’re putting as much energy as they can into crafting giddy, swirling dream rock that will wake you out of your indie-pop daze. You’ve rarely heard a three piece churn out quite this much beautiful, rollicking noise.

Sporting cover art that could have been a page from the Voynich manuscript, the lyrics are equally and willfully mysterious. Sung by Ritzy Bryan in a thick Welsh accent and drowned by cascading waterfalls of guitar, you’ll find yourself looking for a logic course to unravel lines like “I can see he says what he means/I can’t say what he means when he says that/I’ll pretend a pretty pretend/When all I wanna see is the end of this” from the song ‘Cradle’. But by the end, you won’t care as you shout along “My vicious tongue/Cradles just one” over and over again and the band pummels through another catchy minimalistic riff.

The goth, shoegazer aesthetic is all over the album, with hints of The Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine prominently on display, but it’s happy, seriously uptempo goth like you’ve never heard. Check out ‘Austere’ a three minute single with a finale that lasts just over a full minute. It’s a delirious droning riff that sounds like Bauhaus sped up to triple time. ‘Whirring’ could be a hit, with it’s soft/loud dynamic and pretty feedback effects. If you’re not already enthralled by the one minute mark, then The Joy Formidable is just not your thing.

The album is not without its missteps. The songs seem divided between the catchy pop tunes that blaze by all too quickly and the introspective slower tunes that reach for deeper emotional chords but plod along. If the band finds a way to combine these approaches, they could get some serious attention. At under 30 minutes, its also far too short. You have to respect the band for not padding the album with songs they don’t feel confidant enough to release, but you also worry that they’ve already exhausted what they wanted to say. Personally, I’m hoping ‘A Balloon Called Moaning’ is just the introduction to an exciting new band.

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