Single Review: The Joy Formidable – Cholla

By on Thursday, 13th September 2012 at 12:00 pm

Though they have been busy touring and playing festivals, the Joy Formidable have managed to find time to write and record their next album, entitled ‘Wolf’s Law’. It’s due out in the beginning of 2013, just like other releases from other TGTF favourites, but the first taste of the new album will be released on the 15th of October on Atlantic. Called ‘Cholla’, it debuted on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 show last week and it’s a right corker. The video was just released yesterday, and before the song truly begins, the band’s performance is prefaced by the following text:

The past is but a beginning of a beginning, and all that is or has been is but the twilight of the dawn.

I dutifully Googled and was a bit disappointed that it’s taken verbatim from H.G. Wells’ The Discovery of the Future. Then I dug deeper. I had incorrectly guessed it was from another one of Wells’ fanciful books like The Time Machine but soon learned it was taken from the text of a speech he gave in 1902 at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London. You can read the article here, in which he describes two types of minds, one of which lives in the present with no mind for the future and another that is looking towards the future and its possibilities. Another great excerpt from this article is:

Things have been, says the legal mind, and so we are here. The creative mind says we are here because things have yet to be.

This is all well and good until you consider that ‘Cholla’ is actually named for a semi-wild horse born in Nevada with the unusual ability of being able to paint. (Thank goodness. I had turned to the Urban Dictionary and thought I might accidentally start an international incident by even mentioned what the entry in there says ‘cholla’ means.) So how do you draw a connection between the two? This is my best guess? A horse that picks up the skill of painting on its own is an example of something that we would have never predicted would happen, yet it did. Why, or maybe better put, how did this happen, considering all the chaos of this world, this universe?

The music reflects this chaos: at the start, the bass line is unforgiving. As Joy Formidable tracks go, this one does its best at laying into you as their previous hits ‘Austere’ and ‘Cradle’, with monster guitars and heavy drum beats. There is a strange wah-wah-wah that I’m guessing is some electronic sound that’s been slowed down and inserted in here. Very interesting, since when we think of the Joy Formidable, we think of the basics – guitar, bass and drums – so if they’re playing with synths on ‘Wolf’s Law’, all the more power to them. The lyrics “where are we going, what are we doing? … how do we move on? nothing is ruined” supports the looking forward thoughts of H.G. Wells. If Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt want us to philosophise on our future, they might lose people in their esoteric studies, but it’s the sound – unrelenting power – that’s the most obvious impression. And as first impressions go, this one is excellent.


‘Cholla’, the new single from the Joy Formidable, will be released on the 14th of October on Atlantic Records. ‘Wolf’s Law’, their album follow-up to 2011’s ‘The Big Roar’, will follow in January 2013.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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