"Whirring"--which appears on The Big Roar, the 2011 debut album of the Welsh power trio The Joy Formidable--isn't a song with very deep roots. Pretty much everything in it comes from the last few years of guitar rock. The bright arpeggios and odd-count, lopped-off measures owe something to Los Campesinos!. The earnest yelp of frontwoman Ritzy Bryan brings to mind Maja Ivarsson from The Sounds. And the instrumental coda sounds to me like early-century Foo Fighters, from around the time when Dave Grohl & Co. really committed to the idea of blunt-force songwriting--all overdriven chords and drum fills that throttle your brain.
So if novelty is important to you, you might not find much to value about "Whirring." But otherwise, it's a motherfucker of a song. The melody's catchy, and the guitars are shiny and expertly produced. The verses pound with a reassuring weight, and Bryan's voice arcs over them like a jet contrail. The single version of "Whirring," at four minutes and change, shortens that Foo-ey guitar beatdown at the end by about a hundred seconds; you can hear the full version here, and make up your mind about which you like better. Personally, I like my pop songs to err on the side of brevity, but "Whirring" would have to go on a lot longer than six minutes to obscure the pleasures found in the first three.
The Joy Formidable / "Whirring"
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.