Monday, 17 June 2013

Wolf People - Fain

Album review by

OK, so we're all up to speed with the psychedelia revival that's been going on lately, and we know that anyone who can play two chords on acoustic guitar now thinks they can write songs and we're inundated with dire folky singer-songwriters, but what about prog rock? Sure, psych and prog often go hand-in-hand, as do folk and prog. Prog metal has been knocking around since lovers of harder sounds decided they wanted to be The Mars Volta, and US alt-rock has seen bands such as Midlake begin venturing deeper into these areas. Plus there's the very much underground progressive scene that's always been there. Is it possible for actual traditional prog to be both credible and good? Wolf People seem to think so, either that or they've made it so by a happy accident.

The band's third album, 'Fain', is hardy 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' (with or without the on ice shows), in fact it doesn't appear to be a concept at all, but many other hallmarks of early '70s explorers are here, but, maybe using hindsight, Wolf People have removed most of the naff and indulgent parts. Let's go on their journey, one which starts with 'Empty Vessels', a song that begins with a lengthy guitar solo that they've borrowed from Peter Green. The vocals hint at British folk music and include lyrics like "I have been here for ten thousand years, waiting for the storm to draw me out". Only it doesn't sound corny, even though throughout the song the guitar is hardly left alone and the drum sound is so 1970s it probably comes with a free fondue set. This is the beginning of the story of 'Fain' and the other songs are like follow-on chapters.

'All Returns' again begins with a guitar solo and might as well be a psychedelic Fairport Convention cover it's that folky, those guitars swirl like a heavy fug through the song. This deep psych groove is used for much of 'When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate', a long and meandering song that recalls their Swedish counterparts Dungen. 'Athol' offers little in the way of surprises and given what's gone before feels a little like a mid-album filler, although on other albums it would stand out much more. We hit proper folk-rock territory on 'Hesperus', a song that could be lifted from a period-piece, probably one released on the Harvest label. At just three-minutes long, the funk-folk (yes really) 'Answer' is something of an anomaly, but to make up for it they follow this with the seven-minute whirlpool of guitars, folk singing and tempo changes that is 'Thief' and could be several tracks stitched together, however it's surprisingly anticlimactic. This leaves the awesome deep-psych of 'NRR' to end the album on a suitably trippy note. 'Fain' contains some sterling songwriting and musicianship, so fire up the joss sticks and lava lamp, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Wolf People's website

Stream the album in full

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Catch them live:

27th July Slaidburn , UK – Cloudspotting Festival
18th Aug Skipton, UK – Beacons Festival @ Heslaker Farm
14th Oct Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
15th Oct Montreal, QC – Cabaret Mile End
16th Oct Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
17th Oct Detroit, MI – Magic Stick Lounge
18th Oct Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
19th Oct Pittsburgh, PA – Altar

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