Release Year: 2016
When Wolfmother burst on to the scene in the mid-2000s they caught everyone’s attention. They were exciting, fresh, and at least something that hasn’t been heard in a long time. They turned heads with their psychedelic influences and memorable songs. Ten years after their debut they’re still trying to capture the magic they experienced with their debut. After various member changes, breakups, reunions, and arrests Wolfmother can’t seem to get back to what made them so interesting when they first came out. While the new album doesn’t put them back to their glory days, it has some of their strongest material in the past few years.
Reviews have been pretty harsh for this album saying it’s nothing but Andrew Stockdale ripping everyone off. To say Wolfmother doesn’t remind you of Led Zeppelin or other bands from the 60s is untrue, but weren’t they always doing that? As soon as I heard songs like “Woman” and “Love Train” it made me think of all the heavy hitting psychedelic rock bands of the 60s and 70s. So the problem isn’t the band ripping everyone off. The problem with the album is how okay it is. Listening through the whole LP will make you feel “meh” during the entire time.
The opening song “The Love that You Give” isn’t bad and is an energetic opening, but it sounds like a tamer version of their past material, especially since it still has that psychedelic sound. “Victorious” has the same issue. The hard crunichness of the opening guitar riff catches your attention and the music spirals and swirls, but again it sounds like what we’ve heard them do before. If anything this track is one that’ll find a new home during sporting events since it’s about the little victories we experience in life. “Baroness” is one of the strongest songs on the LP if only because the simple chorus of “Tonight, Tonight/gonna leave it all behind” easily gets stuck in your head. Its shift away from the purely psychedelic and the darker music makes it more distinct from the other tracks.
The downfall of the album is how unremarkable most of the songs are. “Pretty Peggy” sounds like the band’s attempt at making an anthemic jingle for a car commercial and there’s nothing memorable about “City Lights.” “Best of a Bad Situation” sounds like Boston mashed with Paul McCartney. Everything about it sounds like one of those songs that constantly blares out of classic rock stations. It doesn’t even seem like it fits the band or the album. “Happy Face” is so drawn out and spacey you’ll fall asleep before it’s over and “Eye of the Beholder” follows the same psychedelic pattern of their other songs.
Lead single “Gypsy Caravan” is the best song the album. They don’t do anything new with the music, but it at least sounds like they’re trying. Also, for anyone pining for some old Wolfmother this the track that sounds like it could come from their first album. The song is upbeat and energetic especially with the trippy guitar solo. “The Simple Life” is another notable song with its chugging rhythm and dirty edge to the music. Midway through the tempo changes along with the melody making it sound like a different song has started. Nothing amazing, but still more notable than the other songs.
Is the album terrible? No, it’s actually much better than their 2014 effort. But it’s just so overwhelmingly meh that it’s hard to care about it. All of the songs are just okay. They don’t really do anything different with the music, depending on their psychedelic influences instead. Most of it sounds like less enthusiastic versions of their older, better songs. Maybe it’s time for Wolfmother to hang it up and move on. Or maybe this album is just a stepping stone to get them back on their feet.