With Wolves of Want, the hooks will bring you back to the record, and the clever turns -- lyrically and musically -- will make it sound fresh each time.
Boston's Bent Shapes were all furious energy on their last album, Feels Weird. It was a pop record with a punk ethos. Now, returning with Wolves of Want, the band has sanded down some of the harder edges and brightened the dark ruts of that record into a set of often shimmering tunes. The album smartly ups the pop sensibilities without losing any of the band's inherent zeal. Opener "New Start in the Old Dominion" washes brittle chords in watery riffs, braced by propulsive drumming and tuneful yet yearning vocals. It sets the stage for an album of taut songs built on earworm hooks that still pack the occasional surprise. "86'd in '03" uses wobbly chords to hint back at the nervy edge of Feels Weird. "Third Coast" busts up its mid-tempo with crashing cymbals and the right touch of distortion.
When the band stretches out a bit, on "Realization Hits" or "Beton Brut", it becomes clear that they don't just need speed or inertia to get through these songs, that the band can vary their approach and still make a cohesive, strong record. The album, one that focuses on and attempts to make peace with various anxieties, is at its best when the distorted and confused clash with sunburst pop structures. So the spoken-word philosophies of "USA vs. POR" may seem a bit too playful, or "Samantha West" polished one too many times. The album, though, never fully loses its way. Wolves of Want is a deeply catchy pop-rock record, one where the hooks will bring you back, and the clever turns -- lyrically and musically -- will make it sound fresh each time.