For Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd, 2013 is more significant than most. This year represents a decade in the music business for the duo, with previous outfits like Tricky Nixon and Sidecar Kisses casualties in their dedicated quest. 'Wolf's Law' is a confident statement from a band who are well set to succeed both commercially and critically in 2013.
Ritzy and Rhydian were joined by drummer Matt Thomas, ever-present since 2009 and a driving force in the trio, particularly in their intense live performances. Those performances and their 2011 debut album, 'The Big Roar', led to praise from Dave Grohl, while Muse invited the the band to support them on their recent European arena tour. A band certainly on the rise.
Our first taste of the follow-up to 'The Big Roar' was, in fact, 'Wolf's Law'. A firm indication of the band's stadium rock aspirations, the melodrama of the title track exploded in a blaze of glory, while suggesting that perhaps the band's more shoegaze-orientated sound of old had been abandoned for a more tempered approach. As 'Wolf's Law' thankfully shows, this isn't quite the case.
The Joy Formidable's characteristic meaty riffs dominate on opening track 'This Ladder Is Ours' - following a similarly misleading (yet pleasing) orchestral opening. Yet arguably, it is the album's quieter moments that truly transfix. The acoustic 'Silent Treatment' is a beautiful reminder of the underlying songwriting talent on offer. All the more so amid the crashing drums and piercing guitars.
Indeed, many of the heavier and louder songs on 'Wolf's Law' stretch a little too far - the band's ambition proving to be their downfall. The quite baffling 'Maw Maw Song', seemingly inspired by 80s hair metal and the 'Nyan Cat' song, a prime example. The track comes slap bang in the middle of 'Wolf's Law', and its near seven minute length derails the album significantly.
However, the album then ups its quality, balancing its quiet and loud elements with aplomb - an anthemic stadium rock sound absolutely nailed. 'Forest Serenade' and 'The Leopard And The Lung' stand out, in particular. 'The Turnaround' is perhaps the exception to the rule, its string-laden melodrama and generic lovelorn lyrics making it difficult to love. Like 'Maw Maw Song', 'The Turnaround' feels somewhat out of place on 'Wolf's Law'.
If The Joy Formidable had shown slightly more restraint on 'Wolf's Law', it could have been considered a tour de force. As it stands, 'Wolf's Law' is a solid return (with some spectacular highlights) but one that could well see the band cement a deserved place in arenas across the world.
'Wolf's Law' is out today on Atlantic Records, and available to purchase from amazon.co.uk.