WE’VE seen some great bands come out of the Anzacs in recent years, including Pond and Tame Impala, but I often believe one of the more overlooked acts to hale from that part of that world are Hard Rock act Wolfmother. With front man Andrew Stockdale being the only consistent member, the outlet have released three studio albums to date, each with a different line-up, with Stockdale himself releasing a solo album. However nothing has topped their self-titled studio debut. Wolfmother blends classic Rock and Roll with a Psychedelic twinge and lots and lot of catchy-ass riffs.
Now, there are a couple of things that should be noted before I carry on with this retrospective review. Like all of our reviews, this one is based on the release date of the album in the UK. Wolfmother was originally released on Halloween in 2005, before a series of release dates all across the globe, ending with a CD+DVD reissue in Japan at the start of 2007. The album I will be reviewing also contains the International track-listing, as opposed to the original Australian track-listing. In my opinion, this listing is the superior.
Opening with a cry that would rival that of Roger Daltrey, Wolfmother blast into album opener ‘Dimension’, a song that reeks of classic Hard Rock and that would not be out of place on a Black Sabbath LP. Andrew Stockdale’s vocals often feel strained, but somehow that works; it really puts power behind the lyrics he sings. ‘Dimension’, a fantastic starting track, it is however is trumped by the third track on this album: ‘Woman’.
‘Woman’ is a song featured on numerous video games, TV shows and films, and listening to it, it’s not hard to see why. With perhaps one of the catchiest vocal riffs on this entire album, ‘Woman’ is also short and snappy, making it probably the most radio-friendly song on the album. Yet Wolfmother’s Stoner and Hard Rock stance is still holds strong.
But one of my favourite tracks on this album is ‘Joker and the Thief’, perhaps the bands most famous songs after its inclusion in the Hangover films. Its signature riff is instantly recognisable, and it feels like the band are attempting to channel Hendrix and not just through the music. Stockdale’s caterwauling croons similar lyrics: ‘They say the joker is a wanted maaaaan/ He makes his way all across the laaaaand/ See him shifting, through the sand/ So I’ll tell you all a story about the joker and thief in the night’. Sound slightly familiar?
But once we look past the immediate attractions of Wolfmother, there are still some really good, solid tunes on here. ‘Pyramid’, for example is great example of Sludge-Rock, with a riveting bass line, before evolving into this beautiful bridge about 2/3 of the way through. ‘Mind’s Eye’ starts off as a slowly, actually quiet piece, before developing into classic Wolfmother. The band’s lyrics have a constant mystical theme about them, not unlike the lyrics of Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, yet can maintain a grounded feel as well, often relating to issues such as relationships. However, ‘Mind’s Eye’ is a great example of the former.
‘Colossal’ is a behemoth that lumbers through the album with plenty of reverb slapped on to the vocals. And standing there as the penultimate track on this album ‘Love Train’, a wonderful, Funk meets Hard Rock combo that’s possibly one of the best and catchiest tracks on this album.
Take away the slightly left-wing songs from the equation and it’s clear that Wolfmother could produce some great standard Rock songs. From the sprawling ‘Where Eagles Have Been’, to the Punky ‘Witchcraft’, to enjoyable closer ‘Vagabond’, there’s no doubt that Wolfmother could do their duty as a ‘Rock’ band.
To this day, I still believe that Wolfmother is a very underrated album, but it’s also where the band have peaked, at least for now. Supporting AC/DC on their Black Ice tour and inclusion on several End of Year lists is about as well received as the band have been to date. Their follow up, Cosmic Egg, was good, but didn’t parallel the monolith of the debut. Because of this, numerous line-up changes and a temporary split, I feel like Wolfmother, along with their self-titled debut, faded slightly into obscurity. A shame, for what I think to be one of the most enjoyable debuts of the 2000’s.
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