The Joy Formidable – AAARTH
There’s so much music in the world that when it comes to reviewing records I am just spoilt for choice. I check out loads of potential albums and end up turning them away, not even because they are bad a lot of the time, more because they don’t stand out from the crowd as something unique and interesting enough. Welsh trio The Joy Formidable’s last record Hitch sadly fell into this category. However, just from that vibrant and bewildering artwork and peculiar title, it was pretty obvious that the band had something different to offer with this latest release. AAARTH has no shortage of character, taking the no-holds-barred raucous rock of previous releases and giving it a mystical reinvention. ‘The Wrong Side’ feels like Coheed and Cambria’s ‘In Keeping Secrets…’ has been remixed by The Flaming Lips, while ‘Dance of the Lotus’ carries far Eastern vibes that sound like they’ve come straight from some dystopian future.
The record’s most experimental offering ‘Cicada (Land on your Back)’ is an otherworldly desert voyage akin to ‘Kashmir’, complete with sitar sounds and a menacing drone like an oncoming sand storm. Even the more subtle flourishes though can still make serious waves. The cascading piano overlaying the heavy riffs in the latter half of ‘Go Loving’ is enough to make it stand out as one of my highlights. The album still has its missteps, the opening track ends up being a tad too eccentric and the softer moments feel a bit out of place and unnecessary, but overall it’s still a stunning transformation. AAARTH is like an unassuming character from some fantastical tale suddenly revealing their true strength. Though there are no Herculean feats to be found just yet, the band have flexed their muscles enough to show that there is the potential here for something truly mighty.