The Joy Formidable

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The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable, performing at Metro in Chicago on 14 December 2011. Left to right: Rhydian Dafydd, Ritzy Bryan, Matt Thomas.
Background information
Origin North Wales, United Kingdom
Genres Alternative rock, dream pop, shoegazing, indie rock, post-punk
Years active 2007–present
Labels Canvasback Music, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Black Bell Records
Members Rhiannon "Ritzy" Bryan
Rhydian Dafydd Davies
Matthew James Thomas
Past members Justin Stahley

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


Beginning (2007–2009)[edit]

Ritzy Bryan performing at Glastonbury Festival in 2010.

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. In January 2009, their self-released debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, was issued in the UK.

In 2009, they replaced Stahley 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.

The Big Roar (2010–2011)[edit]

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 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn film soundtrack.

Wolf's Law (2012–2014)[edit]

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.[5] 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".[6] 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.[7] Mixing duties for the record were handled by Andy Wallace while the records production was completed by the band.[8] 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.[8][9]

On 23 August 2012, the band released a new song, "Wolf's Law", for free download. Two other singles, "Cholla" and "This Ladder Is Ours", were released in order to promote their second album. Wolf's Law was released on 21 January 2013 in the UK and on the following day in the U.S.

For Record Store Day on 20 April 2013, the Joy Formidable released a limited-edition 12" single featuring Wolf's Law outtake "A Minute's Silence" backed by a live cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands".[10]

On 16 July 2013, the band released the EP Silent Treatment. The four-song EP included William Orbit's remix of the title track and the new song "All This Promise."[11]


The Joy Formidable discography
The Joy Formidable on the BBC Introducing stage at the Reading Festival in 2008.
Studio albums 2
EPs 3
Singles 13

Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected details and chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart
The Big Roar 31
Wolf's Law
  • Released: 21 January 2013
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
41 51
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Live albums[edit]

List of EPs, with selected details
Title Album details
First You Have to Get Mad[14]
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Independent
  • Formats: CD

Extended plays[edit]

List of EPs, with selected details
Title Album details
A Balloon Called Moaning
  • Released: 17 December 2008
  • Label: Black Bell
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
  • Released: 5 July 2011
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, digital download
The Big More
  • Released: 14 October 2011
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, digital download


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Year Peak chart positions Album


"Austere"[A] 2008 A Balloon Called Moaning
and The Big Roar
"Cradle"[A] 2009
"Whirring"[A] 7 21
"Popinjay"[B] 2010 The Big Roar
"I Don't Want to See You Like This"
"A Heavy Abacus" 2011 25
"This Ladder Is Ours" 2012 24 Wolf's Law
"A Minute's Silence" 2013 N/A
"Silent Treatment" Wolf's Law
"Yn Rhydiau'r Afon" 2014 Aruthrol
"Tynnu Sylw"
"Y Garreg Ateb" 2015
"—" denotes items which were not released in that country or failed to chart.


  • A - These tracks were re-released in 2011 in promotion of The Big Roar.
  • B - This track was included only on the Japanese edition of The Big Roar


  1. ^ "British band Sidecar Kisses in Malta gig". Malta Media. 11 May 2007. 
  2. ^ "Putting on the Ritz". Wales online. 17 Sep 2008. 
  3. ^ The Joy Formidable - Full Biography. MTV. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  4. ^ "YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)". YouTube. 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  5. ^ Olly Douglas (7 November 2012). "Interview: The Joy Formidable". Muso's Guide. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Gary K. (10 January 2013). "The Joy Formidable interview". The Digital Fix. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b Jeff Yerger (4 May 2012). "The Joy Formidable Need A Quiet Space to Make a Big Noise". Spin. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  9. ^ The Joy Formidable (27 December 2012). "Ritzy on the title "Wolf's Law"". Facebook. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Joy Formidable - A Minute's Silence (Record Store Day Release)". Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  11. ^ Saeger, John (2013-07-16). "Joy Formidable Give Silent Treatment In New EP". Long After Dark. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  12. ^ The Joy Formidable - Official Charts Company
  13. ^ a b c The Joy Formidable - Allmusic // Awards
  14. ^ Discogs - The Joy Formidable – First You Have To Get Mad

External links[edit]