Media type: Song
Artist: The Joy Formidable
Album: Wolf’s Law
I’m not exactly a Downton Abbey worshipper (I feel it’s been sliding since season 1), but I really liked the trailer for its fourth season, which came out about half a year ago – not for the teasers but for the music. Happily, some nice YouTube commenters* posted the song’s name and the artist; and this is how I found out about The Joy Formidable and ‘Wolf’s Law’. So I downloaded the track from iTunes, back when I still had iTunes credit, and was all the happier for it.
It’s an awesome piece of music. ‘Wolf’s Law’ is the title (and final) track from The Joy Formidable’s second album, and it puts lead singer Ritzy Bryan’s very elegant soft-then-loud vocals to great use. The track drastically changes mood partway through and is all the richer for it, handling the transition much better than Catching Fire ever did. In places it’s delicate; in places it’s raucous. The lyrics get a little meh towards the end (‘Don’t wait, let’s go, go, go!’), but it hardly matters; Bryan’s voice merges with the piano line and the electronica in a glorious crescendo. It sounds like lost love and desperation and joyous abandon, which, given the name of the band, is certainly appropriate.
The rest of the album is good, too, but it’s a very different listening experience to its title track, which is why only that track makes it into my Long Tail Eight. Maybe I should have twigged when Pitchfork reviewed Wolf’s Law and mentioned The Joy Formidable and Muse in the same sentence, numerous times. The album’s other tracks feature far more guitar work and distortion, which seem to flop as often as it succeeds (take a look at how Pitchfork describes the guitar solo in ‘Maw Maw Song’ and you’ll get the idea).
But ‘Wolf’s Law’ still reigns supreme. There’s a reason it made the Downton Abbey trailer so good; the music parallels the video’s swift suite of emotions and desires excellently. So watch the trailer and hear what hooked me in the first place. Then listen to the track, in its entirety. And love it.
*Not, as it turns out, a contradiction in terms.
(A heads-up for the clip: you may find it a little icky in places – lots of insects, a few brief shots of sperm cells, some scenes of childbirth starting at (I think) 2:30. But it’s a nice video overall.)