“Silent Treatment” is the latest single from the Joy Formidable’s second album, Wolf’s Law.This sparse, laid-back acoustic song is a departure from the album’s other singles, the hard-rocking “This Ladder is Ours” and “Cholla” and the swelling, orchestral grandeur of the piano-based “Wolf’s Law”. The EP that is attached to “Silent Treatment”, however, couldn’t be more by the numbers. There’s the original song, a B-side (“All This Promise”), a remix, and a live cut. That doesn’t mean this is a bad release — it’s perfectly serviceable. It’s just that it follows the standard “Single EP” format that’s been in place since the 1990s.
“Silent Treatment” itself is a fine single, putting the focus right on Ritzy Bryan’s singing voice as she sings about relationship issues and her reaction to them. The acoustic guitar that accompanies her is active but not intrusive, giving the song forward momentum despite the lack of a beat. The B-side “All This Promise” is a nice companion piece to “Silent Treatment”, a piano ballad with a similar lyrical feel and just a hint of string accompaniment to bolster the solo piano. The William Orbit Mix of “Silent Treatment” respects the original intent of the song by not messing with the vocals or tempo, keeping Bryan’s voice front and center. Instead he opts to just add layers and layers of extra instruments, starting with a simple drumbeat, then throwing in strings and twinkling piano. Eventually the drums start throwing in fills during lyrical breaks, subtle synths sneak into the background, and he tops it off with a soaring French horn. It’s a fine alternate version of the track, but the original works better with its spare arrangement. The EP closes out with a live performance of Wolf’s Law track “Tendons”, which has energy and power but is otherwise unchanged from the studio version. The Silent Treament EP is the sort of release that will appeal to diehard fans and completists only. There’s not much here for the casual listener.