THE JOY FORMIDABLE have never been a band to hold back from the bold and adventurous. Bursting with vibrant tones ever since their debut record, The Big Roar, way back in 2011; they have expanded and developed time and time again. AAARTH is no different.
Kicking off with the crushing soundscapes of Y Bluen Eira before venturing to the more atmospheric depths of All in All via psychedlic twists and turns in the form of Cicada, the Welsh rockers are looking for acceptance with AAARTH – not looking for validation. The eleven tracks are a journey and whilst the album art is perhaps an indication of the mysterious avenues The Joy Formidable are pacing down, it offers nothing in the form of a set answer of what the record is about. Much like the band’s music, the art is subjective and something that seemingly offers a new discovery with every glance.
It is What For that stands out most from the whole AAARTH experience, though. An ever building journey with no time to hold back. Echoing hooks and ghostly vocals combine elegantly to create a track with an abundance of depth. It is sharp. It is layered. It creates a mystery halfway through where it could veer off in any direction. Instead of fizzling out and leaving you unsatisfied, though, What For picks up the pace once more for an explosive ending.
Absence is arguably the opposite of What For. Delicate piano notes glide seamlessly throughout the track, and the lyrics of “but the absence is all we had” offers the opportunity for reflection. Without vocals the track is sublime and a perfectly executed piece of music – with vocals, however, it is heartbreaking. Essentially a poem, Absence will undoubtedly one day be used to soundtrack gloomy and compelling cinematography.
In short – The Joy Formidable do not need validation. This is their fourth full length record and there are once again no signs of playing it safe or looking back to The Big Roar for inspiration. Redeveloping themselves once more whilst still referring back to the bold and densely constructed soundscapes offers a wonderful new sound and makes you think ‘what will The Joy Formidable do next?’