The Joy Formidable - First You Have To Get Mad

Anthony Page 01/12/2009

Rating: 5/5

It's been a big year for the Joy Formidable, starting the year amongst many people's hot tips, including God Is In The TV, and then proved everyone right with the release of debut mini album A Balloon Called Moaning. Now to wet our appetites for their full length debut, if they really needed wetting anymore, they have self released the limited edition live album First You Have To Get Mad, the album recorded at their sell out show at the Garage on September 30th. So for those of us who haven't had the chance to catch them live yet can find out if the passion and fun they showed on A Balloon Called Moaning is reproduced live.

Lots of live albums, even the official labels ones, suffer from awful sound, the music drowned out by idiots chatting etc. The Velvet Underground live one at one point pays more attention to some bloke chatting about the film Patton than it does the music; thankfully First You Have To Get Mad has none of these problems, the sound is every bit as clear as the studio work they have done and is great for it. From the first bars of opening track “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade” it's clear this is a band oozing confidence, the quiet and loud parts are explored even more live than on A Balloon, as are the little bits in-between.

It's clear that The Joy Formidable are a well honed live band each song tight and full of the playful sound a band produces when they know their music is special. The track listing obviously leans heavily on A Balloon but a few new songs pop up, “The Magnifying Glass” a dark grunge tinged beauty, “Anemone” a hypnotic, ethereal beauty of a pop tune similar in vain to “6996” though with electric guitars and my personal favourite “A Heavy Abacus” a heavy, epic, shoe gazing treat. The songs from the mini album get a reworking too; “Ostrich” becomes an epic, haunting piece of magic and “Austere” is as beautifully bruising piece of music as you will hear in a long time.

Even the death of Ritzy's amp at the end can't spoil the show, instead allowing her to show case her amazing voice with a stunning acapella version of the final verse of “While The Flies”. I'm not sure if versions of this album are still available but if they are and you haven't got one, go stop reading this and get one, it's really that good the sound of a band ready for greatness and full of the confidence this knowledge brings. As good as “A Balloon Called Moaning” is I'm going out on a limb and am going to say that “First You Have To Get Mad” is even better, so that means they have two albums in my top ten of the year.