25 Apr 2013
Wolf People "Fain" Review
How to follow up on "Steeple", a debut (excluding singles catch-all "Tidings") that was born with the sense of identity and purpose that most bands take half a career to craft?
Obviously a reinvention wasn't in order then, and there must have been a temptation to follow the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' maxim. "Fain" clearly demonstrates however that Wolf People are not the sort of band who are satisfied to rest on their laurels. Instead, on "Fain" they've accentuated the elements that made "Steeple" such a unique prospect in a field where so many sound alike.
To escape the distractions of everyday life they decamped to guitarist Joe Hollick's remote house in the Yorkshire Dales laden with so much gear that they had to sleep in tents when they weren't busy recording. Naturally it was freezing, and rained almost constantly - ideal conditions then to create their distinctly British strand of psychedelic druidic rock. Not since Led Zeppelin 3 has a British rock album been such a product of it's environment.
"Fain" sees Wolf People digging deeper into traditional folk forms, with Jack Sharp's vocals in particular speaking of experiences beyond his years and evoking the stark humanity of the likes of Nic Jones.
Which is not to say that this is in anyway a folk album (although the thought of an acoustic Jack Sharp performance is not unappealing in itself) - if anything the guitars are louder, and fuzzier than ever and the drums are alternately funkier and heavier than on previous outtings.
The masterful "All Returns" further refines their 'Fairport Convention dabbling in black magic' sound while "When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate" manages to successfully integrate epic Dark Side of the Moon style backing vocals with some stunning twin guitar leads and a surprisingly nimble heavy funk outro.
Elsewhere there are longer instrumental segments inspired by Scandinavian rock both new and old, and on "Thief" a moody, first person highwayman story ("It's like a form of tourism. You can visit but not live in the mind of an appalling human being." explains Jack) with some of the most spooky male / female harmony vocals you'll hear this side of "Battle of Evermore".
"FAIN" is released April 29. BUY IT HERE ON : CD VINYL OR DIGITAL