The Joy Formidable’s new Silent Treatment E.P. opens with a William Orbit remix of the haunting ballad, which probably sounds exactly how you’d expect a William Orbit remix of the song to sound.
If you’re not familiar with the original, which appears as track two here, it’s a very mellow, acoustic ballad without any percussion. In a sense, it’s the exact opposite of the group’s usual loud, aggressive brand of alt rock. “I’ll take the easy cynicism / less talking, more reason,” Ritzy sings softly.
Right from the start, Orbit’s remix of the song sounds differently, being that he’s added subtle but warm synth that starts immediately. But it’s about 40 seconds into the track that it gets really different when lively percussion kicks in after we hear the chorus for the first time. I’m not sure if Matthew James Thomas recorded drums and percussion for this version or if Orbit himself performed and/or programmed it, but it certainly gives the track new life. Where it was content to be mellow and moody before, now it really jumps out and stirs you. I suppose it’s slightly less haunting, but it’s no less impressive and it’s arguably even more beautiful. I should also note that the percussion has many layers and changes occasionally. Initially, it sounds like live drums, but later it sounds more like a programmed electro-pop beat, though I definitely would not go so far as to call this version of the song pop.
The other big change that Orbit has made is that he’s added piano. Not throughout the entire track, but here and there, basically in the places where you might expect a little guitar soloing. He’s also added his usual little electro flourishes and embellishments throughout the song, though they’re off in the background and you might not notice them unless you listen to the song with headphones.
The ironic thing is that everything Orbit’s done has actually made his remix sound more like a typical song by The Joy Formidable than the actual album version sounds. In other words, the remix sounds like the album version and the album version now sounds like a stripped down, acoustic version.
As I said, the second track is the album version of “Silent Treatment,” though it sounds like it’s been mastered a bit differently. Not that it sounded bad on the album — far from it — but it sounds a bit louder and clearer here.
Track three is a brand new song called “All This Promise.” And it’s also something different for the band, being that it’s a piano ballad. And a slightly cabaret-ish piano ballad at that. I certainly don’t recall the band ever doing anything like it before. (Except for the acoustic version of “Cholla.”) Most of the song simply consists of Ritzy’s vocals and the piano, though there are some strings off in the background during parts of it. “All this promise, going to waste / all my promises are coming back late,” Ritzy sings, her lyrics rather biting as usual. Normally, I’d be inclined to call a piano ballad with flourishes of strings pretty or gorgeous, but this one is quite piercing and raw, though it’s certainly touching.
The final track is a live version of “Tendons” recorded at The Roundhouse. “I like a good mosh pit,” Ritzy remarks after asking the crowd if they’re good at the beginning. That definitely tickled my funny bone, although the band was very, very heavy when I saw them live earlier this year so I wouldn’t be surprised if a mosh pit did form at some of their shows. In any case, this version of the song is slightly heavier than the version on the album. It’s also a bit longer and rougher around the edges — things you’d expect from a live track. It’s quite good though. Makes me wish the band would release a live album.