The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable is a Welsh alternative rock band, formed in 2007 in Mold, Flintshire, and currently based in London, England. The band consists of Rhiannon "Ritzy" Bryan (lead vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass, vocals) and Matthew James Thomas (drums, percussion).

The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable, performing at Metro in Chicago on 14 December 2011. Left to right: Rhydian Dafydd, Ritzy Bryan, Matt Thomas.
The Joy Formidable, performing at Metro in Chicago on 14 December 2011. Left to right: Rhydian Dafydd, Ritzy Bryan, Matt Thomas.
Background information
OriginMold, Flintshire, Wales
GenresAlternative rock, dream pop, shoegazing, indie rock, post-punk
Years active2007–present
LabelsCanvasback Music, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Black Bell Records
MembersRhiannon "Ritzy" Bryan
Rhydian Dafydd Davies
Matthew James Thomas
Past membersJustin Stahley


Ritzy Bryan performing at Glastonbury Festival in 2010.

2007–2009: Beginnings and A Balloon Called MoaningEdit

Childhood friends and then couple Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd originally played together as part of Manchester band Tricky Nixon, which later reformed into Sidecar Kisses.[1] After Sidecar Kisses split up in 2007, they regrouped, returning to their Welsh home town of Mold, and formed the Joy Formidable with Justin Stahley on drums.[2] In July 2008, they released their first official single, "Austere". It was followed by a Christmas single, "My Beerdrunk Soul Is Sadder than a Hundred Dead Christmas Trees", issued as a 2008 digital download, and the "Cradle" double 7" in 2009. The band's debut EP A Balloon Called Moaning was released exclusively in Japan on 17 December 2008, followed by a UK release in March 2009.

In 2009, Stahley was replaced with Matthew James Thomas. That April, they teamed with a new label started by Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy, Black Bell Records, to release A Balloon Called Moaning in the U.S, earning favourable reviews from NME, The Guardian, The Times, Spin and Pitchfork.

2010–2011: The Big RoarEdit

In 2010, the band signed to Canvasback Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic, and began work on their debut album, The Big Roar, which was recorded in London.[3] Dafydd said that "(it) covers a lot of emotional range. It's captured the battle between the eternal optimist and the manic depressive". The album was produced by the Joy Formidable with help from engineer Neak Menter. The band traveled to Los Angeles to mix it with producer Rich Costey, who had worked with bands such as Mew, Muse, Foo Fighters and Glasvegas.

The Big Roar was released on 24 January 2011 and included early singles "Austere", "Cradle" and "Whirring" as well as two further singles, "I Don't Want to See You Like This" and "A Heavy Abacus" ("Whirring" was later sampled by the Lonely Island on "YOLO").[4] In November 2011, their song "Endtapes" was featured on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn film soundtrack.

2012–2014: Wolf's Law and AruthrolEdit

On 23 August 2012, the song "Wolf's Law", was released as a free download from their then-upcoming second studio album of the same title. Two official singles, "This Ladder Is Ours" and "Cholla", were released in late 2012, the former peaking at no. 24 on the US Alternative Songs chart.[5] The band's second studio album, Wolf's Law, was officially released on 21 January 2013 in the UK, and the following day in the U.S.

Most of the writing for Wolf's Law was done on the road during the 12-month tour in support of their previous record, The Big Roar.[6] Commenting on the writing process for the album, Bryan explained that the songs for the album were approached with vocals and one accompaniment (either guitar or piano) before being built upon, stating, "It's all about the lyrics, the voice and the melody".[7] The vocals and guitars were recorded in January 2012 in Maine, while drums and additional orchestral and choir pieces for the record were scored and recorded by the band in February 2012 in London.[8] Mixing duties for the record were handled by Andy Wallace while the records production was completed by the band.[9] The album title referred to Wolff's law, a scientific theory by Julius Wolff which posits that bones may become stronger in response to stress as a form of adaptation. According to Bryan, this related to one of the major themes of the album, which is "relationships on the mend and feeling reinvigorated"; she continued that the album felt like the band reconnecting with themselves emotionally and spiritually.[9][10]

For Record Store Day on 20 April 2013, the Joy Formidable released a limited-edition 12" single of "A Minute's Silence", an outtake from Wolf's Law, backed by a live cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands".[11] "Silent Treatment" was later released as the album's third and final single in July 2013.[12] In July 2014, the band began releasing monthly vinyl singles, titled Aruthrol, consisting of songs sung in their native Welsh language released as a double A-side with a contribution by another artist. Three singles, "Yn Rhydiau'r Afon", "Tynnu Sylw" and "Y Garreg Ateb", were released exclusively on 7" vinyl in collaboration with Colorama, White Noise Sound and Bloom & Heavy Petting Zoo.[13]

2015–2017: HitchEdit

On 27 January 2016, the band announced on their Facebook page that their third studio album, Hitch, was due for release on 25 March 2016.[14] The band also uploaded a new song titled "The Last Thing on My Mind", accompanied by a self-produced montage music video consisting of clips of scantily clad or nude men, which Bryan explained to be in response to the over-sexualisation of women in modern media, stating "We don't condone objectification in general, the point here is, when the media representation is imbalanced, if we're mostly seeing women sexualised or objectified, from a male perspective or otherwise, it's limited, it's damaging and frankly; it's boring too".[15]

2018–2020: AAARTHEdit

On 26 June 2018, the band announced that their fourth studio album, AAARTH, was due for release on 28 September 2018. The band also joined Foo Fighters for a short tour.[16]

2021–present: Into the BlueEdit

On 6 May 2021, the band announced that their fifth studio album, Into the Blue, was due for release on 20 August 2021. The single Into the Blue was written in Wales but recorded in Utah, where they are residing. It was released in March 2021.[17]



  1. ^ "British band Sidecar Kisses in Malta gig". Malta Media. 11 May 2007.
  2. ^ "Putting on the Ritz". Wales online. 17 September 2008.
  3. ^ The Joy Formidable - Full Biography. MTV. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  4. ^ "YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)". YouTube. 26 January 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  5. ^ This Ladder Is Ours - The Joy Formidable. Billboard. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  6. ^ Olly Douglas (7 November 2012). "Interview: The Joy Formidable". Muso's Guide. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  7. ^ Gary K. (10 January 2013). "The Joy Formidable interview". The Digital Fix. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  8. ^ Tom Lanham (23 November 2012). "The PV Q&A: The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan Talks Wolf's Law +The Flaws of Corporate Greed". PureVolume. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  9. ^ a b Jeff Yerger (4 May 2012). "The Joy Formidable Need A Quiet Space to Make a Big Noise". Spin. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  10. ^ The Joy Formidable (27 December 2012). "Ritzy on the title "Wolf's Law"". Facebook. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  11. ^ "The Joy Formidable - A Minute's Silence (Record Store Day Release)". Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  12. ^ Saeger, John (16 July 2013). "Joy Formidable Give Silent Treatment In New EP". Long After Dark. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  13. ^ The Joy Formidable. "Aruthrol". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  14. ^ The Joy Formidable. "The Joy Formidable - iTunes Store". iTunes. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  15. ^ The Joy Formidable. "The Joy Formidable -"The Last Thing on My Mind" (Official Video)". YouTube. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  16. ^ Kaye, Ben (26 June 2018). "The Joy Formidable announce new album, AAARTH, share "The Wrong Side": Stream". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  17. ^ Taysom, Joe (April 2021). "The Joy Formidable return with 'Into The Blue'". Far Out. Retrieved 18 May 2021.

External linksEdit