The Joy Formidable the Welsh trio (now based in London) are back with their third album Hitch which they made in their Red Brick studio in Mold, North Wales. Fronted by Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan it clocks in at 70 minutes and certainly packs a punch. They have a brand of rock music that comes straight at you with walls of guitar and crashing drums as evidenced by intro track A Second in White. I love the Welsh lilt in her voice but as a track it doesn’t leave much of an impression on me.
Radio of Lips comes in sounding very Big Countryish with blazing guitars and is fast and frenetic. It has its moments but overall I feel the first two tracks are grandiose and being “sung at” me. They are obviously well made but I don’t’ feel I’m hearing anything new. The Last Thing On My Mind meanwhile has an intro that I love with acoustic guitar and the band can be heard jamming then it launches into the track. I like this human factor, it’s endearing. This track stands out with some catchy hooks and vocals. Liana by contrast has a lovely clinky piano sound that brings to mind Cat Stevens’ Lisa Lisa that has a poetic rock ballad feel. The Brook starts with what could be a mandolin or a harp which works really well. This has a hypnotic Celtic sound in keeping with their Welsh roots. Another stand-out track.
The beginning of The Gift begins well with a synthesised accordion type of sound and a male vocal (guitarist Rhydian Dafydd) that worked well. It didn’t sound so immediately bombastic and is atmospheric. Running Hands With The Night meanwhile is another rousing rock anthem with a full throttle guitar sound and a jumpy drum beat. Fog drops down a gear, is more melodic, and the band sound better for it. Underneath the Petal also in low gear sounds gentle and elegiac with sinewy slices of piano, acoustic guitar and flute layered throughout whilst Blowing Fire has more big guitar riffs.
Don’t Let Me Know to end on, by contrast, is lilting and a breath of fresh air that is fluid with more acoustic guitar and gets more interesting as the song builds. Hitch is quite a mixture of power rock tracks that are full-on but start to sound a bit standardised and just don’t do it for me. It’s on other songs like The Last Thing On My Mind, The Brook and Underneath the Petal that they start to excel as they display more of their song-writing prowess.