THE JOY FORMIDABLE
A bit of a ’90s Brit-pop throwback, Welsh power trio The Joy Formidable builds on the female-fronted, punchy indie rock of fellow Welshman Catatonia, and noisier practitioners of shoegaze like Lush. The threesome makes a formidable racket, and dynamic singer-guitarist Ritzy Bryan’s sweet but powerful voice floats eerily above the band’s gleeful, slightly scary thrashing and pounding. Unlike its gauzy, introspective shoegaze forbears, The Joy Formidable loves loud guitars. Bryan’s corrosive slabs of fretwork noise recall the metallic yet clean sound forged by Garbage. Live, Bryan is the center of attention, careening across the stage and bashing Matt Thomas’ drum kit with her guitar whenever she gets a chance. Thomas’ pummeling attack suggests ’80s tribal punk rockers Killing Joke on crystal meth, and his kit includes an honest-to-goodness massive gong that would make ELP’s Carl Palmer proud. The gong points to TJF’s other key influence — over-the-top 1970s prog rock. This means that song codas can drag on for ages, and lyrics can veer from annoyingly diffuse to sheer what-the-fuckery. Luckily, Bryan and her crew steer clear of the clinically insane rabbit hole that long ago swallowed Muse.