Essential New Music: The Joy Formidable’s “Hitch”


It’s been nearly a decade since the Joy Formidable stormed out of Wales with an elephant gun full of shoegaze ammo along with a my-fist-your-face attitude and a nuanced melodic touch that rivaled Chrissie Hynde’s. The trio’s debut, 2011’s The Big Roar, broke the band wide, earning it slots at Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading in England and Lollapalooza in the United States and set the group on the road treadmill for more than a year. While touring Roar, TJF wrote sophomore album 2013’s Wolf’s Law, but the band has taken more time with the dynamic and textured Hitch.

As a result, the spikes in the group’s range are even more dramatic, from the epic scorch of opener “A Second In White” to the reflective hush of “The Gift” to the rumbling mid-tempo hybrid of “Liana.” Ritzy Bryan incorporates more stylistic shifts in her guitar work, transitioning easily between sparse folk, shuffling blues, towering prog and the tornadic rock she’s previously exhibited, matched step for confident step by bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas. With Hitch, the Joy Formidable has expanded its sonic palette and subsequently zeroed in on its ultimate sound.

—Brian Baker