There are various theories on how a band should structure an album. Some critics like to see a bell-curve kind of energy distribution, while others prefer to see a group start off with their most intense tracks and play off that vibe for the rest of the record. On their debut album, The Joy Formidable turns that model on its head, beginning The Big Roar with a minute of bizarre, apparently random ambient noise, and finishing the album with the most memorable single to date.

The Joy Formidable fits neatly into two visible trends in the contemporary rock scene. First, the band consists of only a few people, with an awesome female singer on the microphone. Second, the band sounds like it consists of twice as many people as it actually does, making use of electronic synthesizers to create chorus-like background melodies that hide the fact it’s still music created by the classic, bare-bones, guitar-bass-drums line-up.

The Big Roar boasts a handful of notable hits. A couple of the best songs, such as 'Austere' and 'Whirring' appeared previously on the band’s eight-track teaser record A Balloon Called Moaning. Of the brand new tracks, the most original are probably 'Heavy Abascus' and 'Llaw = Wall', which is also one of the only tracks to feature a second vocalist in addition to Ritzy Bryan. Once it gets going, even the leadoff track, 'The Ever-changing Spectrum of Lie' is a highlight that comes in at an even 7.5 minutes.

Still, as mentioned earlier, it is actually the finale of the twelve-song album,'The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade' that strikes out as the catchiest, best produced single. After a couple of listens, good luck getting the refrain of 'This dream is/ This dream is/ This dream is in a telescope now' out of your head. It’s no coincidence that this song also mixes the best elements of the album as a whole: heavy background chords and drums covered with a pop hook and stadium rock effects.

Bryan, The Joy Formidable’s lead singer, is one-part Emily Haines (Metric) and one-part Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). Combined with guitar progressions that would not be out of place on 90s albums such as Melancholy, The Joy Formidable’s music sounds like other female-led bands such as Metric and The Jezabels; but with more angst injected.

Overall, The Big Roar is a strong debut full-length record for a group that is certain to get more press and attention as they tour and lay down more songs in the studio. The worst thing about the record is actually that it occasionally sounds under-produced; the band seems to have settled for simple, mediocre effects where they could have spent more time innovating. For this reason in particular, The Big Roar does not reach the groundbreaking level of some other acts in the genre, but is enough to leave fans eagerly awaiting their follow-up recording.