The Joy Formidable

Into the Blue

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Into the Blue Review

by Matt Collar

It's hard to think of another indie rock band that's as consistently compelling as the Joy Formidable. Every album is a polished gemstone of heart-bludgeoning alt-rock, teetering in a magical netherworld between My Bloody Valentine and the Pixies. It's a sound that crashes through whatever your current mood is and buries you deep within its smoldering, lyrical magma. The group's fifth album, 2021's pulse-quickening Into the Blue, is no exception. Recorded in Utah where the Welsh trio have lived on-and-off since at least 2018, Into the Blue finds guitarist/vocalist Ritzy Bryan, bassist Rhydian Dafydd Davies, and drummer Matt Thomas crafting a shimmering batch of sun-baked, dune-high anthems. There's a lovely dichotomy to the Joy Formidable's sound here, at once economic in its raw, guitar/bass/drums conception, yet far-reaching with a dynamic sonic palette that soars to the horizon. It's an epic quality that's mirrored in their lyrics. With their dewy vocals expertly off-set by their fuzztone, tidal-wave guitar riffs, Bryan and Davies (former romantic partners who overcame their 2013 break-up to keep the band going) dive into songs that explore their need to find ways to continually reconnect with the divine magic that initially inspired their creative passion. On the title-track they sing, "Now I see this place was here all along/Don't fear the move out of the past/Let time take your hand and guide you." It's just this kind of poignant Zen alchemy that the Joy Formidable returns to time and again on Into the Blue. It's a sound that demands your surrender, which you don't mind giving in to.

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