[sic] Magazine

Wolf People – Fain

All be them a good one, Wolf People are a traditional folk-rock band, right? Fain is going to be more of the same, yes? Just what then are they playing at on recent single “All Returns”? Sure, its rickety rhythm and stoner groove more than fit the bill, but there’s a deconstructed heartbeat at play here too, a mutant strain of classic rock as re-envisaged by a modern-day beat-maker. The track then lurches via a distorted guitar solo straight into dense crunching fuzz, really flexing the band’s sonic muscle for the first time and, you know what, it totally slays. You simply don’t snag the calibre of Jace Lasek of Besnard Lakes for backing-vocal duty otherwise.

However, just as the solid Steeple LP was committed to posterity in rural Wales, so too does Fain have a more predictable taste for the outdoors, having been captured in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a vibe the band have been nailing ever since their conception and it’s achieved through uncluttered simplicity. There’s so much clean space between each instrument and Jack Sharp ‘s vocal that it renders the type of oppressive studio wankery that, for example, killed last year’s Rick Rubin -produced Howlin’ Rain album even more laughable.

For the most part then, Wolf People do have a throwback template and they’re going to stick to it. Things either start sleepily in vintage psyche or they stomp into life as per “When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate”. Either way, they then inevitably flip, the folky plodders tempo-shifting with fast-flowing riffs and deep blow-outs, the dynamic unravelling into more bucolic territory – the 7-minute ode to highwaymen past “Thief” bookends a crisp, unbroken vocal jangle with throaty bass fuzz that wouldn’t be out of place on an early White Stripes album. In fact, the only time Fain really sticks to its guns is on the massive closer “NRR” where the dust is well and truly blown from the speaker stack courtesy of a storm of electrified Blues and riffs to rival the advent of heavy rock.

Where one might expect a bourbon-channelled growl or yelping, hall-of-fame howl to complement, Wolf People still rely on Sharp’s deal-breakingly thin vocal, but for better or worse that’s what largely sets the band apart. It’d be too easy to write them off as some pub-rock revival band otherwise – a categorisation that would serve them a grand injustice too, it must be said. Not only would you be approaching some cracking meditative jams with ears closed if you did, you’d be judging a book by its cover, which any decent schooling in idiom should tell you is unwise at best. Consider the likeable Fain a timely reminder of that if nothing else.

Advised downloads: “All Returns” and “NRR”.

~Fain is released April 29th 2013 on Jagjaguwar .~

[sic] review: Wolf People – Steeple

Wolf People @ myspace