|The Joy Formidable|
The title of the new set is Wolf's Law, which is a play on words of Wolff's Law - a medical theory from the 1800s that healthy bones will adapt and strengthen to meet whatever pressure or strain they are constantly under. So in that respect, the title could be an affirmative statement about persevering through hard times to emerge stronger. But then there's also the overt idea of "wolf's law" (as in, the animal itself) evidenced by the picture of the wolf (is he dead or resting?) on the cover. And that could just be an allusion to the need to be a predator or aggressive in this world in order to survive. Anyway, a couple thoughts there on the title.
I've been listening to Wolf's Law now for a week or two. To be sure, the lyrics are challenging as Bryan sings lines that can be interpreted in many different ways. That's kinda a cool thing though about this band. The lyrics can lend themselves to multiple interpretations. I like that. In any case, I can detect some themes. Things such as repairing relationships, the power of redemption, taking leaps of faith and the middle ground gray area that many of us occupy when it comes to important relationships in our lives. Throw that together with the musical prowess of Bryan and team, and - well - you have one of the best new albums of the young year.
Cholla. "Where are we going? What are we doing?" Another monster song, the band put this one out as a single in 2012. Blasting out of the gates, the song draws you in immediately as the band deliver big guitar hooks and an interesting "wha-wha-wha" sound effect (or is it voice?) to get things rolling. Lyrically, this song is a bit of a puzzle. "Cholla" can refer to a cactus, a type of horse, a bad ass Latina gangster type...or other things like a province in South Korea or even a particular type of bread associated with the Jewish faith. Seriously. Look it up. None of these things seem to fit with the "story" of the song, however.
Lyrically, it's a bit of a puzzler. Tendons are the things that hold all of our muscles to bone and bones to bones. Perhaps the metaphor here is that we are all like tendons. Tender but strong. Binding together. Stretching - sometimes too far until we break. And within that framework, perhaps the other lyrics about relationships and trying to fix things makes sense. I'll go with that.
Little Blimp. "Wind yourself tightly to me." Speed is back to start here with a bass line and voice leading into guitar noise that pretty much sustains throughout...in a good way. Bombastic. That's the sound of this song. That, overlaid with some nifty guitar work. And what is this song about? Not sure. The words about winding together, holding on tight, never looking back down and being able to "ride this easily" may suggest jumping on an acceding blimp as metaphor for taking a leap in a relationship. In any case, in my book this fourth song makes Wolf's Law at this point four-for-four to this point.
Bats. "I had a reason, but reason went away." Starting with a aggressive choppy talk/sing intro, TJF are quickly rocking hard in this one with some heavy riffs. Think Nirvana meets Jesus and Mary Chain...or something like that. Lyrically, this thing is all over the place. The theme seems to be depleted momentum in life and what do you do with that? "The idea is the fuel for a spirited life" starts the song, but the it's "the grey coals on a dying pit" and "I had a reason, but the reason went away." Stacked up against the aggressive music, this seems to be a rant against the dying of that youthful spirit that can (and should) power us all along for as much of our lives as we can keep the fire burning.
These are my picks for the best songs on Wolf's Law because they showcase what The Joy Formidable are about and best at.
- This Ladder Is Ours
- Forest Serenade
- Silent Treatment
While perhaps not at the sublime level as the "must have" songs above, these are solid tunes that you can easily love.
- Little Blimp
- Wolf's Law
With eight of 12 songs either "must have" or "good," there's little filler here. The below songs are all quite good, but if you don't want the entire album, then you could avoid these and still get the "best of" the album.
- Maw Maw Song
- The Turnaround
- The Hurdle
- The Leopard and the Lung