The Joy Formidable, A Balloon Called Moaning
What they lack in manpower, they make up in charisma
The Joy Formidable is one of those small bands that sounds big — so big they don't need bells and whistles. Or a string section. Or horns. Or keys. Or kazoos. With just thumping bass lines, pounding drums, fuzzy guitar and bratty vocals, the Joy Formidable churn out loud, lively indie rock that make up in charisma what it lacks in manpower. The Wales trio is led by Ritzy Bryan, a powerhouse frontwoman (she looks like Blondie, had Blondie risen to fame during the grunge era) who specializes in murky lyrics and blurry guitar licks that somehow emerge crystal clear — you might not always be able to make out exactly what she's singing about, but the feeling is visceral (there's a reason why the word "joy" is in the band's name). Their debut EP features eight candy-coated songs — from the schoolgirl pigtail-pulling feel of "Cradle" to the death-obsessed yet oddly upbeat "Austere" and the call-and-response Stars-esque sour romance of "9669" — whose energy transcends all subject matter. If emotions were transmitted through waves of sound, this is what joy would sound like.