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The Joy Formidable | AAARTH

Ritzy Bryan and her Welsh rockers crank out their loudest, noisiest and weirdest work to date.

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Welcome to The Bigger Roar. If not The Biggest. This Welsh power-trio fronted by pint-sized guitar goddess Ritzy Bryan have never been afraid to go off the beaten track now and then. But with their fourth full-length AAARTH — which may look like the exclamation of a pirate with a speech impediment, but is apparently a reference to the Welsh word for bear — The Joy Formidable shred the map and set off into uncharted wilderness without looking back. Their loudest, noisiest and just plain weirdest work to date by far, these 11 songs find Bryan and co. upending songwriting conventions and loosening the structural reins to create more space for a vast array of musical detours and sonic flourishes. Vocals are sliced, diced, treated and stacked haphazardly; wild guitar licks and riffs swoop and sweep in and out of the mix; the drums pound away with tribal abandon, then abruptly stop mid-song to allow for a bass solo; plinky piano melodies twinkle like snowflakes in the sun; haunting atmospherics howl in the background; and everybody’s effects-pedal board gets an extreme workout. Somewhere between St. Vincent at her gnarliest, Led Zeppelin at their Kashmirest and Rage Against the Machine at their artsiest, AAARTH makes The Joy Formidable‘s first three albums seem like a warmup. This time they’re loaded for bear.