Wolfmother - Victorious
by Daniel Griffiths
Wolfmother’s fourth studio album is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the Australian rock band. It is a fast-paced whirl, full of eclectic guitars and domineering vocals from lead singer Andrew Stockdale. His voice is high and nasal, not quite reaching the point where you’d label it whiny but not too far away. It is not a massive surprise that he was arrested in 2011 and fined $350 for “unwanted singing.” If he were your neighbour you would probably consider calling the fuzz during his rehearsals too.
Despite this, there is something endearing about his voice, a passion that goes well with the flurry of guitars. This is proper old-school rock, reminiscent of both The White Stripes and Black Sabbath. There are also similarities to Cage The Elephant and Supergrass, the former particularly prominent in the chorus of Baroness. This hotchpotch of influences and similarities sums up a frontman passionate about the revival and preservation of rock. Furious drumming and heavily riff-centred guitar playing are a constant feature, especially in the whirling solo at the end of Gypsy Caravan.
The songs at times appear to be a vessel for showcasing talented guitar playing, as each guitarist vies for prominence – with the drummer also doing his best to weigh in with some manic accompaniment. The drumming plays a crucial role, notably in Remove Your Mask, and the whining-shredding here also says a lot about the general pattern to which the music adheres. This consists of instrumentals, which go a bit quieter for the singing and pipe up again for the choruses and various solos. There is a feeling of interconnectedness between the songs, a feeling that the songs work better as an album rather than as a list of songs.
The album’s sound is very similar throughout; it starts as it means to go on with The Love That You Give, and then moves on to title track Victorious. This, along with Gypsy Caravan, is probably the highlight of the album, providing fast-paced rock that is strangely easy to listen to despite its pace and volume – much the same as American Idiot, an album I could fall asleep listening to despite it being a bit mental. Easy is probably quite accurate, however; it offers nothing ground-breaking, preferring to fall back upon tried and tested methods that brought a cult following around the release of Joker And The Thief, the band’s flagship song. Wolfmother, despite being Australian, just sound a bit like any old American punk rock band, like Green Day, who seemed to inspire hundreds of copycat bands in the noughties with their boyish brashness. Wolfmother are a bit more polished, though certainly more formulaic, with wistful lyrics that don’t veer far from the safe and comfortable. Nevertheless, it is a good album from a band who offer genuinely fun music, which should in itself be a reason to listen in.