Release Date: Apr 29, 2013
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Apparently, ‘All Returns‘ – the majestic first single from, and the ideal introduction to, Wolf People‘s second album – was inspired by a dream where frontman and songwriter Jack Sharp had the contents of his soul measured and dissected by an acquaintance. Judging by Fain, said soul-charting session must have uncovered a pile of well-worn vinyl by the likes of Fairport Convention, Trees and Bert Jansch in the arts appreciation regions of Sharp’s mind. On their second album, Wolf People amplify the healthy appreciation of English and Scottish folk song traditions (as interpreted by the late ’60s British folk-rock movement) that has bubbled under their prog-fuelled fuzz-rock templates on past releases.
On their second album, Fain, British rockers Wolf People deliver the type of controlled psychedelia and fuzz-bathed prog that defined "album rock" in the mid-'70s. Earlier albums drew comparisons to the bluesy classic rock of Cream or Jethro Tull, and while Fain definitely retains those reference points, the eight tunes weave together into a singular mood, touching on elements of U.K. folk, underground psych, and even early metal before it's all over.
Strictly in terms of cool and irregular influences, Wolf People are a crate-digger’s dream. Albums by May Blitz, Mighty Baby and Third World War all nurture a commendably unlikely skill-set for any young band to possess, but what emerges stakes out its very own doggedly idiosyncratic territory. For all the time they evidently spend looking over their shoulder, Wolf People give no impression of being beholden to easy nostalgia and slavish mimicry.
Wolf People’s new album was recorded almost in isolation in a remote house in the Yorkshire Dales, where it rained practically the whole time. It goes without saying that Fain is not the go-to LP for your soundtrack to summer fun, unless your idea of summer fun is performing endless solos in a darkened room. Very little has changed in the way of their sound since 2011’s Steeple, their ‘official’ debut following a collection of recordings from the mid-noughties called Tidings in 2010.
Wolf People took to the English countryside to make Fain, because Fain's the kind of record you make in the English countryside. The London foursome's second LP-- third, if you count their sturdy early singles collection Tidings-- harkens back to the days when fife-toting beardos decamped to hillsides to write 18-minute songs about wizards. Indeed, Fain, much like 2010's Steeple, is a progressive rock record of the most British kind: heady, overcast, rooted in English psych-folk, streaked with lightning-flash guitars, thunderous rhythms, and the occasional woodwind.
Though many musicians prefer the confines of the recording studio, others experiment in the intimacy of a home. Looking at Blood Sugar Sex Majik and Led Zeppelin IV, it’s obvious that the professional method can produce sound results. But the bedroom has its appeal as well, as the past couple of decades of indie music would attest. For Wolf People’s new release, Fain, the English fuzz rockers moved into one member’s isolated home in Yorkshire Dales to record naturally, giving each layer of sound room to breathe.
Upon realising that Wolf People's riff-heavy folk rock has certainly not beam beamed in from the murkiest corners of the 70s, one must surely ask themselves - is this mere revivalism? Even back in the days of wide-bottomed pantaloons and pachouli smoke, folk rock artists had their eyes fixed on the past, whether through folk traditions or Tolkien's fantastical creations. Fortunately, Wolf People are able to dip their toes into prog's expansive waters without getting lost in pomposity. Rather than the stale reanimation of a long-buried corpse, they inject their influences with an honest vitality that keeps them truly alive.