- by Nathan Fidler Rating:9 Release Date:2016-11-11 Label: Jagjaguwar
Wolf People have long been tipped as a band capable of great things. Ruins is their fourth album, and it’s a timely ode to the ruins of their homeland - Britain. Providing us with a haunting slice of folk and psych rock, it’s probably just the kind of album we need right now.
The band have upped their game this time around, with clear and striking drums opening up alongside a bluesy feeling riff. ‘Ninth Night’ doesn’t go at breakneck pace, it simply motors on, with Jack Sharp delivering the lines in a reserved manner most familiar in dreamy-folk music.
This time the riffs feel meaner, gurgling and barking on ‘Thistles’, but dangerously hypnotic on ‘Kingfisher Reprise’. While there is often a lack of emotion in the vocals, the rest of the instrumentation adds layer upon layer of flavour, enough to make the chorus of ‘Night Witch’ catchy without a belting melody.
‘Crumbling Dias’ begins with sweetly forlorn flutes, only to turn into a bubbling cauldron of guitar and ghostly vocals. “There is no reason to leave” Sharp repeats, giving things an uneasy air. It all starts to add up to - whether the band mean it or not - a sense of a disjointed land, made mystic, something from a fantasy novel. ‘Belong’ can be read in just such a way, but the allegory with our current state of affairs is hard to avoid.
Combining big riffs with traditional folk instruments isn’t easy, but Wolf People manage it with such grace and deftness that you never really think too much about it. Gliding between sounds even within individual songs, you’re always engaged, only ever turned off slightly by the flatness of the vocal delivery.
‘Kingfisher’ with two reprise songs, provides the overall theme for the album in terms of sound. You’ll find everything from grizzly licks to medieval sounding market music - sometimes in the same song. It’s a sound built with true craft, never overstepping the mark into absurdity, adding this band as possibly one of the best British bands out there right now without having to shout about it.
Amazing album, one of the best this year.