Wolfie sounds like the band your little brother had when he was in high school. You’d sometimes hear them practicing down in the basement, and even if you enjoyed what you heard, you were too busy trying to live your much cooler life. Your brother’s band never really noticed the lack of attention you paid to them. They were just having fun.
Caught in a perpetual adolescence, Wolfie’s Tall Dark Hill is youthful in the best sense of the word. From arrangement to lyrics, these songs are filled with an unforced innocence. While they do seem to be emulating the poppy alt-rock styles they’ve heard on the radio, Wolfie’s enthusiasm for music constantly shines through.
Although the formula of feedback-riddled guitars and standard drum patterns overlaid with the sweetly unselfconscious vocals of Amanda Lyons and Joe Ziemba, Wolfie’s charms are still apparent. The playfulness of Tall Dark Hill lets listeners know the band isn’t trying to take itself too seriously, and the preoccupation with high school situations gives the band a lightness of spirit. Wolfie is dedicated to what it is doing as a band, but it doesn’t mean everything needs to be dark and serious.
While the lyrics sometimes give into teen angst, with lines like “I don’t want to be all alone. If I was I would see my grave” from “Everyone Knows How To Cry”. Mostly, the songs are sweet, if maybe a bit strange, tales, like “Gwendolyn” with its simple lines like “Gwendolyn, I’m glad you’re safe and now we can be very happy”. Wolfie’s matter-of-fact way of writing adds to the genuine quality. The band is making music about the very things they know about, and the effect is cute and sincere.
Tall Dark Hill does suffer a bit from a lack of originality, and although at a mere 34 minutes, thhe album drags a bit from the sense that most of these songs are variations of each other. The short nature of these songs is actually a detriment. The longer songs give the band more of a chance to develop ideas and styles. Generally, by the time a song has built up emotion, it is over, as with the case of “Living Island Is Real”. This is the one area where Wolfie seems to lack confidence, and it does mar the album as a whole.
Wolfie almost can’t be faulted. No, Tall Dark Hill is not the most interesting release of the year, but the band’s energy is almost unmatched. Wolfie will make you wished you decided to pay more attention to what your brother and his friends were doing down in the basement all those years ago.