Around the release of the album Wolf’s Law, vocalist and guitarist Ritzy Bryan, who fronts The Joy Formidable, broke up with her seven-year long boyfriend Rhydian Dafydd. He plays bass in the band. Although there was fear of this tearing them apart and causing tensions, all drama was swiftly avoided. The band lived on as boldly as before.
Taylor Berman from Spin Magazine points out that Wolff’s law is a phenomenon in which the bone of a person or animal becomes strengthened when put under pressure. He links this to the name of the album and the realistic events that unfolded between the band’s relations. The prophetic analysis of their reality is like a novelisation of a romance.
Their new album Hitch is splattered with (the legendary Gonzo artist) Ralph Steadman’s typical abrasive-style font. The fellow Welshman’s name as the illustrator to Hunter S. Thompson’s wild weekends and narcotic narratives binds The Joy Formidable to a similar hazy lunacy. It was a fine selling point. I do not want to carry on about Steadman and his ties to Thompson, but you can hear the dreamy tones of Hitch soundtracking that mediocre Bill Murray depiction of the gonzo journalist in Where the Buffalo Roam (1980). ‘The Brook’ could replace the dulcet tones of Jefferson Airplane singing ‘White Rabbit’, or ‘Blowing Fire’ trading for The Yardbirds, as Johnny Depp slips and trips through his Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
The surrealist label extends beyond this mild relationship with Ralph Steadman. On the video from ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’, from their newest release, the band quotes Salvador Dali as an epigraph: “To gaze is to think.” The video then shamelessly exhibits men gyrating, dancing on stage, dribbling oil on abs, Jimi Hendix humping his guitar, etc. The theme of the gaze is reversed to make men the object of desire. Ritzy ensured this was how the video was read.
In accordance with Wolff’s law, the band’s skeleton will grow stronger and stronger as their time progresses. With three albums now under their belts, The Joy Formidable have a bulky oeuvre of bulky choruses and corrugated guitar and drum parts to pick and choose from, and to translate in untamed stage shows. The Joy Formidable will commence their UK tour at Think Tank? on May 7th, before heading off to the USA and Canada.