I’m sort of preparing myself for a hipster backlash against former blog darlings The Joy Formidable, on account of their major label debut, The Big Roar, including 4 tracks that originally appeared on their EP A Balloon Called Moaning.* I’ll admit I was initially a bit disappointed when I saw this, but after listening through the album a few times, I don’t care. The Big Roar is sequenced really well. If you enjoy densely textured, guitar-based indie rock that’s too propulsive to be quintessentially shoegaze but is nonetheless pretty pedal-happy, this is a satisfying end-to-end listen. It’s early days yet, but it may be one of the best such things you hear this year. I think that’s what matters most.
I also know the requisite hipster pose is to decry any re-recording as vastly inferior to the original version, but in this case it’s simply not true. “Whirring” has been completely reworked and now represents the song as the band has been performing it, with the extended instrumental break that showcases their increasing grasp of texture and dynamics. (Aside: nyctaper has live sets available to download; it’s a little hard to believe a 3-piece can make such an enveloping racket.) A couple of the others have been remixed to sound a little sharper and less murky; I don’t think “Cradle” was messed with at all. And these choices all serve the album well.
* It’s not that the band is starved for material; they’ve released a trio of singles in between, and their lives sets have featured as-yet unrecorded songs.