Wolf's Law

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Wolf's Law

Album cover art by Martin Wittfooth
Studio album by The Joy Formidable
Released January 21, 2013 (UK)
January 22, 2013 (US)
Recorded North Wales, London and Sebago Lake, Maine
Genre Alternative rock, shoegazing, dream pop
Length 52:52
Label Atlantic
Producer The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable chronology
The Big Roar
Wolf's Law
Singles from Wolf's Law
  1. "Cholla"
    Released: September 6, 2012
  2. "This Ladder Is Ours"
    Released: October 9, 2012
  3. "Silent Treatment"
    Released: July 9, 2013

Wolf's Law is the second full length studio album from Welsh alternative rock band The Joy Formidable. The album was released on January 21, 2013 in the UK and on January 22, 2013 in the US through Atlantic Records.[1]

Writing and recording[edit]

Writing for Wolf's Law was primarily done on the road during the twelve-month period the band toured in support of their previous record, The Big Roar.[2] Commenting on the writing process for the album, band guitarist and lead vocalist Ritzy 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".[3] In regards to the writing process the band operate on, bassist Rhydian Dafydd explained, "We always write what's close to our hearts. Every lyric on this album means something - the same as the last record."[4] The album was recorded in various different places in the middle of snowstorms, 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 in which thirteen songs were recorded for the album, the extra song is called 'A Minute's Silence' and will be released as a limited edition 12" single for Record Store Day.[5][6][7] Mixing duties for the record were handled by Andy Wallace while the records production was completed by the band.[6]


The album title is a reference 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 relates to one of the major themes of the album which is "relationships on the mend and feeling reinvigorated", continuing that the album feels like the band reconnecting with themselves emotionally and spiritually.[6][8] The album was also said to have been partially influenced by nature, social issues, and Native American mythology.[5] "The Leopard and the Lung" was said to have been inspired by activist Wangari Maathai.[6]

Release and promotion[edit]

Three music videos were released to promote the album. The first video to be released was for the albums hidden track titled "Wolf's Law". The song was made available for free download by joining the band's email list.[9] Music videos for "Cholla" and "This Ladder Is Ours" were also released respectively. The album was eventually made available for streaming through Rolling Stone on January 16, 2013.[10] On January 22, 2013, Wolf's Law was made available on CD, digital download, and limited edition vinyl worldwide through Atlantic Records.

"Little Blimp" could first be heard when it was included on the soundtrack of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, released on October 30, 2012.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 73/100[11]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[12]
BBC favorable[13]
Consequence of Sound 3/5 stars[14]
Drowned in Sound 6/10[15]
Filter 80%[16]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[17]
Pitchfork 7.2[18]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[19]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[20]
Spin 7/10[21]

Thus far, the album has received mainly positive reviews from music critics. The aggregate review site Metacritic assigned an average score of 73 to the album based on 31 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

In a positive review by AP, reviewer Paul J. Weber characterized the album as "wonderfully noisy and hooky, shimmering with guitar-pop accessibility."[22] Steven Hyden of Pitchfork compared the album to The Big Roar stating "If anything, Wolf's Law is a weirder, proggier record that explores a wider range of textures and sounds than the relatively monochromatic Roar."[18] In a similar statement concerning the albums dynamics, Arnold Pan of Pop Matters commented, "the Joy Formidable proves on Wolf’s Law that it can create grandeur and awe by letting contrast and touch speak volumes more than overpowering brute force can."[23] The lyrics on the album have also been praised, with Noel Murray of A.V. Club claiming "...the most important trick that The Joy Formidable finesses is to take that sense of grandeur and apply it to today’s world, to ordinary people trying to cope with stress and loneliness."[24]

In a somewhat mixed response, Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone expressed, "At times, it feels like they're glue-gunning hot ideas rather than writing fully realized songs, but they've come up with some fine Frankensteins nonetheless."[19] Critiquing the albums production, Jeremy D. Larson of Consequence of Sound noted "Wolf’s Law sounds like it was caught in the Muse Trap", explaining "Bryan’s lacquered riffs on “Cholla” and “Bats” are so pop and polished there’s hardly any friction between her, Thomas, and bassist Rhydian Dafydd".[14] Sam Shepherd of musicOMH stated similarly, "Everything is engineered to sound massive, even the ballads. It is polished to such a degree that it loses the edge that made the band’s earlier work so exciting."[25]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ritzy Bryan & Rhydian Dafydd of The Joy Formidable[26]

No. Title Length
1. "This Ladder Is Ours"   5:12
2. "Cholla"   3:23
3. "Tendons"   4:19
4. "Little Blimp"   2:52
5. "Bats"   3:48
6. "Silent Treatment"   3:39
7. "Maw Maw Song"   6:47
8. "Forest Serenade"   4:22
9. "The Leopard and the Lung"   6:00
10. "The Hurdle"   3:59
11. "The Turnaround" (includes hidden track, "Wolf's Law") 9:34
Total length:


Wolf's Law album personnel adapted from the CD liner notes.[26]

The Joy Formidable
Additional album personnel
  • Joy Smith – harp
  • Tercia Realidad – strings
  • Jorge Jimenez – violin, direction
  • James O'Toole – violin
  • Emma Alter – violin
  • Henrik Persson – cello
  • Xavier Stephenson – drum engineer, assistant string engineer
  • Liam Nolan – assistant drum engineer, assistant string engineer
  • Sam Wheat – string engineer
  • Paul Suarez – ProTools engineer
  • Neak Mentor – assistant engineer
  • Brian Montgomery – assistant engineer
  • Andy Wallacemixing
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering
  • Steve Ralbovsky – A&R
  • Martin Wittfooth – paintings, album artwork
  • James Minchin III – photo (band photo)
  • Alex R. Kirzhner – design


Chart Peak
Billboard 200[27] 51
Billboard Alternative Albums[27] 11
Billboard Internet Albums[27] 15
Billboard Rock Albums[27] 16
Billboard Tastemaker Albums[27] 5
UK Albums Chart 41


  1. ^ Weiss, Sam (November 8, 2012). "The Joy Formidable Detail 'Wolf's Law', Debut "This Ladder Is Ours" Video". Prefix. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Douglas, Olly (November 7, 2012). "Interview: The Joy Formidable". Muso's Guide. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ Gary K. (January 10, 2013). "The Joy Formidable interview". The Digital Fix. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  4. ^ Martin, Chris PJ (January 29, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: "Our lyrics take on new meanings as time goes by"". The Underclassed. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Lanham, Tom (November 23, 2012). "The PV Q&A: The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan Talks Wolf's Law +The Flaws of Corporate Greed". PureVolume. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d Yerger, Jeff (May 4, 2012). "The Joy Formidable Need A Quiet Space to Make a Big Noise". Spin. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  7. ^ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151561124295783&set=a.117299235782.128349.24115340782&type=1&theater
  8. ^ The Joy Formidable (December 27, 2012). "Ritzy on the title "Wolf's Law"". Facebook. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  9. ^ Goble, Corban (August 23, 2012). "The Joy Formidable – "Wolf’s Law" Video". Stereogum. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Joy Formidable Reach for Rock Heights on 'Wolf's Law' – Album Premiere". Rolling Stone. January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Critic Reviews for Wolf's Law". Metacritic. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Wolf's Law – The Joy Formidable". AllMusic. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ Hewitt, Ben. "Review of The Joy Formidable - Wolf’s Law". BBC. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Larson, Jeremy D. (January 22, 2013). "Album Review: The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  15. ^ Tudor, Alexander (January 17, 2013). "Album Review: The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  16. ^ Hilleary, Mike (January 21, 2013). "The Joy Formidable". Filter. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ Hann, Michael (January 17, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law – review". The Guardian. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Hyden, Steven (January 24, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Dolan, Jon (January 22, 2013). "Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  20. ^ Collett, Mark (January 19, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf’s Law". Slant Magazine. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ Tedder, Michael (January 23, 2013). "The Joy Formidable, 'Wolf's Law' Review". Spin. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  22. ^ Paul J. Weber (January 22, 2013). "Review: Joy Formidable roars again on 'Wolf's Law'". Associated Press. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  23. ^ Pan, Arnold (January 22, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law". PopMatters. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  24. ^ Murray, Noel (January 22, 2013). "The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law". A.V. Club. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ Shepherd, Sam (January 21, 2013). "The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law". musicOMH. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b Wolf's Law (CD liner). The Joy Formidable. Atlantic Records. 2013.
  27. ^ a b c d e Wolf's Law - The Joy Formidable Billboard. Retrieved February 10, 2013.

External links[edit]