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Music Review: The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning

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It's always a bit annoying when we have to wait until forever for groups from  overseas to have an easier-to-find American release. In this album's case, it's had to wait a little bit over a year. (It was released in February of 09.) Still, it becomes very apparent that this debut album by  Welsh trio The Joy Formidable is well worth the wait.


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A Balloon Called Moaning is the sort of indie pop-rock that is accessible without sounding too saccharine.The band's dynamic consists of Ritzy Bryan's voice and guitar soaring over  Rhydian Dafydd's solid bass lines and Matt Thomas' masterful drumming. Taking cues from bands like the Breeders,the overall sound of the band is one of optimism against whatever hardships they fare. This is most exemplified on their second single, "Cradle":

Her lyrics, while abstract at times, still show a slight level of sadness, the line "I wish the cobwebs would cover me" juxtaposed by the cooing in the background and the crashing guitar. Likewise, on "Austere" the lyrics were also of a despondent nature, but Byran's voice and that fuzzy guitar breakdown at the end just push it past any semblance of a depressing song. It's this sort of thing that's endemic of all the songs on this album,even in their latest song "Popinjay" (which you can find a link to the video for here).

There are a few exceptions. "9669" is a bit of a duet between Bryan and Dafydd, which is interesting seeing as the two are also in a relationship, but also because it serves as a brief acoustic respite from the crashing pop rock of the rest of the album.

The album closer "Ostrich" is very moody compared to the rest, the drumming and grungy riffs going over Bryan's voice, not completely diminishing it of course. In contrast, the album opener "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade" is not a fast paced as the other songs, but it still retains that dogged hope against whatever comes to you. 

The trio have made a huge name for themselves for their live work.  There are plenty of links to the videos from past shows in Europe, but with the U.S. release, they are finally going to play some shows in the east coast.  I'd say do yourself the favor and find the nearest venue and check it out. 

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