Music

Wolfmother: Victorious

Leaning on the sounds of the past, Wolfmother makes a record that is very much in the now.


Wolfmother

Victorious

Label: EMI
US Release Date: 2016-02-19
UK Release Date: 2016-02-19
Amazon
iTunes

Wolfmother returns with a record that owes as much to 1976 and it does 2016, as much to glam as it does to heavy metal and as much to Andrew Stockdale’s keen songwriting as it does to Brendan O’ Brien’s smart production. This is the kind of kick in the teeth this Australian unit gave us a decade back and it’s high time we had that same kick again. And kick this little sucker does.

The record opens with the Sabbath-y “Love That You Give”, a track that lasts just over the 2:30 mark but covers plenty of musical and lyrical ground with its droning, throbbing rhythms and soaring melody lines. If one didn’t know any better they might be free to think that these sounds crawled from beneath a garage somewhere in the Baltimore suburbs or in one of those towns in Pennsylvania with pockets of gas underneath them that cause random and frightening explosions as though hell itself were opening up. From there we move to the title track and it retains its heaviness while proving hookier, poppier at the same time, asking us to imagining a less lucid, more stoned and much cooler version of Billy Squier raising his ax high and parting the seven seas.

The group gives us a stomping Sweet, Queen and T. Rex-influenced number via “Baroness”, a track that succeeds despite the over-used refrain of “tonight/tonight”. It takes us deeper into Stockdale’s mental vault, revealing that his tricks run deeper than we might think. Those tricks even run to the variety of the rock ballad. That arrives here with “Pretty Peggy”. The little love song doesn’t quite sound like the rest of those numbers. It’s clean, acoustic and cut from a cloth that places it somewhere in Wales circa 1999 rather than London in 1974.

This is a credit, of course, to songwriter, band and engineer who give us something so uncharacteristic that it makes perfect sense. From there, the record gets back to rockin’ with the dirty, dirty “City Lights”, which swirls and surrounds so quickly you begin to think you’re at a roller rink, waiting to pass up the kids moving in the slow lane. “Simple Life”, meanwhile, could have been cribbed from some back porch bumpkins deep in the heart of the American Midwest. That, in the meantime sets the dirty template for the rest of the record as it winds its way to a close almost without incident.

Whereas “Pretty Peggy” was out of character for the rest of the record and works, a second stab at stepping out from the normal sturm und drang, an otherwise pleasant pop number titled “Best of a Bad Situation” doesn’t have the same panache and could have easily been supplanted by either of the record’s two bonus tracks, the space truckin’ “Remove Your Mask” or the expertly crafted “Wedding”.

If some were concerned that Wolfmother was never gonna be able to top its earliest work, you should be able to rest easy from this point forward. A welcome and appropriate return from one of the best bands to emerge in the last decade.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.