Ten years ago the Welsh trio defied convention by releasing a debut album, that was in fact a deluxe EP with a running time of half an hour. A decade and acclaim later, the band have boosted the release as a double album to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The expanded version is demo and live version free, but instead offers listeners a total reworking and swaps the shoe gazing, post punk original with paired down, acoustic welsh language versions.
The thudding bass lines of Austere (Llym) have gone, replaced with a rhythmic acoustic arrangement. Whirring (Chwyrilo) strips away the guitars and drums and exposes Ritzy Bryans's vocals as being really quite remarkable. The Welsh language version of 9669 shows a vulnerability and ruefulness that has previously been hidden behind the original's bedroom mix of over dominant guitars and hazy vocals. Ostrich (Estrys) opts for a darker, haunting piano arrangement alongside more wistful vocals from Bryan.
The two albums are different enough to stand alone but show their nascence alongside a more mature approach. It's an original and unexpected way to honor their debut, and offers a different perspective; as the musicians and their fans have evolved over the last decade, so has the music. This anniversary edition is a reminder that The Joy Formidable are a versatile band who are free to move in any direction they choose.
Groupie rating 4/5