joyform_coverA Balloon Called Moaning is the debut album from Welsh three-piece The Joy Formidable, recent (and riotous) TLOBF gig headliners, and hotly tipped new young band-on-the-rise.Lots of elements can very quickly be identified that signpost this as taking the listener into shoegaze territory. Witness the ear-shredding high guitar scree that features on previous single 'Cradle' and - most prominently - the intro to 'While The Flies'; or the way that the sounds are layered up resulting in a lovely haze of noise on most tracks (acoustic 'Austere' being a partial exception). Production is expertly managed so that individual sounds, instruments and vocals can still be distinguished though: this is a haze, as opposed to a "mush" of sound (these *are* technical terms, reader - I do hope you're taking notes...).The principal vocal sitting atop this lovely musical confection is, for the main part, that of the fabulously-named Ritzy Bryan, with backing duties fulfilled by her real-life boyfriend, bassist Rhydian Dafydd (yup: Welsh). Their voices add a significant dollop of sweetness to the mix, nicely offsetting the other noises, and Bryan's made me think, in places, of Kim Deal (in particular in 'The Last Drop') or Tanya Donnelly. On a couple of tracks they do a nice shared, or call-and-response type vocal ('9669', 'While The Flies'), and these rank amongst the album's highlights.Much use is made of "oohs" and "aah", on nearly every track bar 'Whirring', 'The Last Drop' and 'Ostrich' - hence the "Moaning" in the album title, perhaps? - which leads me, in the absence of very many clearly audible lyrics, to hazard a guess that this is a sexylove themed album. Certainly 'While The Flies' and '9669' sounds like romantic ballads, while the breathy fluttery vocals on tracks like 'Ostrich' and 'Austere' would seem to indicate more erotic intentions.The band's playfulness comes through in the interesting ways in which they choose to end tracks. These endings are either strikingly abrupt ('Cradle', While The Flies', 'The Last Drop'); or they merge into the beginning of the next track ('Austere' to 'While The Flies') or they fade out, as if reluctant to end ('Whirring', the solemn drum beat at the album's close for the ending of 'Ostrich'). This is, then, a lovely album, that may indeed be short (only eight tracks), but is certainly sweet in a lot of the right places.78%The Joy Formidable on Myspace