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Constellation Guide: = BAD //

= AVERAGE //

= DECENT //

The Joy Formidable - wolf's law // atlantic // Wolf’s Law is a pleasingly familiar animal. Plenty has changed for the band following the success of The Big Roar, their debut LP, including the fact that the Welsh three-piece are now nomadic. They sold the tiny attic space where The Big Roar was recorded, and will spend 2013 touring the globe. Amongst all this upheaval, it’s pleasing to find that the band still know how to make big guitar-filled anthems, but

You, Me, & Everyone we know - A Great big Hole EP // selfreleased // It's been a tough ride recently for Ben Liebsch, the lone remaining member of You, Me, & Everyone We Know. After releasing a much anticipated and rapturously received

= BRILLIANT //

= MASTERPIECE

there is some deeper nuance and delicate touches buried beneath the brash euphoria of noise. Much of the record was recorded by the three-piece while staying in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere in Maine during the depths of a cold winter. Opener ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ deceptively begins with a flourish of orchestral swooning before erupting into the kind of noise that makes The Joy Formidable a beast to be reckoned with. ‘Little Blimp’ has a colossal guitar hook that sounds akin to something Muse might have done in their early days. ‘Maw Maw Song’ plays a similar trick to ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ with an orchestral opening, but then turns into the first ever rock song with lyrics for cats. Singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan keeps the lyrics in English briefly, but then “Maw maw, maw maw maw maw maw, maw maw maw maw maw, maw maw maw maw maw” is wailed out, stalking the guitar lines. It’s a surprise to hear on first listen, but it’s something so gleefully fun and crazy, which is what great rock n’ roll should be. In all seriousness, the band has obviously felt compelled to write about the relationship between humans and animals, as inspired by their surroundings. Lead single from the album, ‘Cholla’, offers up a summary of the path that The Joy Formidable are forging musically. Ritzy proposes: “How do we move on, when nothing is growing?” This record isn’t a wild step in a different direction, but the band has been able to build something bigger and crazier than before. There’s a definite growth there, but most important of all, it’s a widescreen rock record that’s a hugely fun listen. Dave Reynolds

debut album Some Things Don't Wash Out, the band tragically imploded at the height of its hype, with five out of six members vacating the YM&EWK moniker after discovering that their alcoholic singer had been stealing band money to fuel his drinking problem. A poorly produced, mid-crisis solo EP followed, aptly called Things Are Really Weird Right Now. It was predictably shit. Liebsch fights on, though, determined to reignite the flame of potential his band once started. His latest, decidedly succinct effort signals a period of sobriety. 'I'm Alright' is an adrenaline shot of positive pop punk. 'I'm not saying I'm not crazy, I'm not saying I've found God, I'm just saying here and now I'm alright', the singer preaches. He certainly sounds more chipper than when we last heard from him, and this whiplash anthem harks back to the classic sound pioneered on Some Things..., even if it's only a minute long. It's sandwiched between 'A Great Big Hole' and 'Coming Up Short', each lasting a respectable three and a half minutes and showcasing a more reflective side of the singer, admitting his sins but vowing to move on from them. None of these songs are quite as good as the band was at its peak, lacking both the tempo and the musical intellect to warrant extensive replay value. However, Liebsch is back on the rails both lyrically and vocally. If he can surround himself with like-minded, gifted songsmiths, then there's ample hope for progression. Matt Ayres

MUSIC 09

Issue #5: December 2012  

Welcome to the fifth issue of Spires, Oxford's best culture magazine! Featuring a review of Spring Offensive's glorious homecoming performan...

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