Wolf's Law

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Wolf's Law
Wolf's Law.jpg
Album cover art by Martin Wittfooth
Studio album by
Released21 January 2013 (UK)
22 January 2013 (US)
RecordedNorth Wales, London and Sebago Lake, Maine
GenreAlternative rock, shoegazing, dream pop
ProducerThe Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable chronology
The Big More
Wolf's Law
Singles from Wolf's Law
  1. "Cholla"
    Released: 6 September 2012
  2. "This Ladder Is Ours"
    Released: 9 October 2012
  3. "Silent Treatment"
    Released: 9 July 2013

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

Background and recording[edit]

Writing for Wolf's Law was primarily done on the road during the 12-month period that the band toured in support of their previous record, The Big Roar.[2] Commenting on the writing process for the album, 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 band's writing process, 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 places, with vocals and guitars recorded in January 2012 in Sebago Lake, Maine, while drums and additional orchestral and choir pieces for the record were scored and recorded by the band in February 2012 in London. A total of 13 songs were recorded, of which 11 were included on the final album; the extra song, "A Minute's Silence", was issued as a limited edition 12" single on 20 April 2013 for Record Store Day.[5][6][7] Mixing duties for the record were handled by Andy Wallace while the record's 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", and she said 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 album's hidden title track. 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. The album was made available for streaming through Rolling Stone on 16 January 2013.[10] On 22 January 2013, Wolf's Law was released worldwide by Atlantic Records on CD, digital download and limited-edition vinyl.

"Little Blimp" had previously been included on the soundtrack of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, released on 30 October 2012.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[12]
Consequence of Sound3/5 stars[14]
Drowned in Sound6/10[15]
The Guardian4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[20]
Slant Magazine3/5 stars[21]

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".[23] 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".[19] In a similar statement concerning the album's 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".[24] The lyrics on the album were also praised, with Noel Murray of The A.V. Club claiming that "...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".[25]

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".[20] Critiquing the album's production, Jeremy D. Larson of Consequence of Sound noted, "Wolf’s Law sounds like it was caught in the Muse Trap", explaining that "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 similarly stated, "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".[26]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, the album debuted at No. 51 on the Billboard 200,[27] No. 16 on the Rock Albums and No. 11 on the Alternative Albums charts,[28][29] with around 8,000 copies sold in its first week. The album has sold 25,000 copies in the US as of February 2016.[30]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd of the Joy Formidable[31].

1."This Ladder Is Ours"5:12
4."Little Blimp"2:52
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:52:52


Wolf's Law album personnel adapted from the CD liner notes.[31]

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[32] 51
Billboard Alternative Albums[32] 11
Billboard Internet Albums[32] 15
Billboard Rock Albums[32] 16
Billboard Tastemaker Albums[32] 5
UK Albums Chart[33] 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. ^ "Record Store Day is 10 days away. We're... - The Joy Formidable | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  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. ^ Beaumont, Mark (January 18, 2013). "Wolf's Law - The Joy Formidable". NME.
  19. ^ a b Hyden, Steven (January 24, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Dolan, Jon (January 22, 2013). "Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  21. ^ Collett, Mark (January 19, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law". Slant Magazine. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  22. ^ Tedder, Michael (January 23, 2013). "The Joy Formidable, 'Wolf's Law' Review". Spin. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  23. ^ Paul J. Weber (January 22, 2013). "Review: Joy Formidable roars again on 'Wolf's Law'". Associated Press. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  24. ^ Pan, Arnold (January 22, 2013). "The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law". PopMatters. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  25. ^ Murray, Noel (January 22, 2013). "The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  26. ^ Shepherd, Sam (January 21, 2013). "The Joy Formidable – Wolf's Law". musicOMH. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  27. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. February 9, 2013.
  28. ^ "Rock Albums". Billboard. February 9, 2013.
  29. ^ "Alternative Albums". Billboard. February 9, 2013.
  30. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on February 29, 2016.
  31. ^ a b Wolf's Law (CD liner). The Joy Formidable. Atlantic Records. 2013.CS1 maint: others (link)
  32. ^ a b c d e Wolf's Law - The Joy Formidable Billboard. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  33. ^ The Joy Formidable - Official Charts Company

External links[edit]