The Joy Formidable, "Wolf's Law" (Atlantic)
Two years after The Joy Formidable barreled to the fringe of the rock mainstream with the lush and brute "The Big Roar," the Welsh trio returns with an even bigger and squalling encore. "Wolf's Law" is the arrival of a headliner.
It's a deserved reward. This is wonderfully noisy and hooky, shimmering with guitar-pop accessibility. So what if standouts such as "Maw Maw Song" and the whirlwind "Bats" have the nagging feeling of sounding familiar -- maybe a head-bopper from the alt-rock heyday of the '90s or another Brit rocker making massive songs for arenas like touring mates Muse. In the voice and guitar-hammering hands of frontwoman Ritzy Bryan, surprises (usually loud ones) are around every corner.
In the opener "This Ladder is Ours," Bryan begins with an inviting "Let's take this walk/It's long overdue." She isn't kidding. Where was an exciting rocker like this in 2012, and how soon before we can have another?