How nice to open your post and be gifted with the opportunity to talk about a Wolf Gang who doesn’t want to (yawn) kill them all or do dreadful things to your granny, but is instead a dapper, well-mannered young LSE drop-out who can be trusted to treat your ears with the most honourable of intentions.
It seems a while since we first got excited about young Max McElligott, but the time taken on the rich pop glitter of his Dave Fridmann-produced debut 'Suego Faults' (Atlantic first picked him up two years ago) was definitely worth taking. Have a peek…
‘Lions In Cages’
This former single stitches a many coloured coat from all the best patches of MGMT, Duran Duran and The Killers, a perfect blend of new romantic electro-pop stylings and gloriously gung-ho guitar-pop. Extremely good for stomping, and possessed of a chorus that’ll chase you round for days. And a brilliant bridge. Craftsmanship, but not in a Werther’s Original sort of way.
A big, bright-eyed synthy sweeper in which Max tries to explain the writing in the stars to a potential paramour: “Why won’t you lay down your little heart for me?/We’d be something out of this world, never seen before”. Never works in real life that, does it?
‘Stay And Defend’
It’s more than just Max’s tight-throated, David Byrne-ish delivery that conjures up Talking Heads ‘This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)’ here. Rather than any direct lifting, it’s the spirit of these open-hearted, dreamy, twinkling verses, that then crash into rush of a big glamorous Spandau Ballet chorus.
‘Back To Back’
One of his most intriguing tracks, the nocturnal and slinky guitar provides a contrast to the general effervescence of the album. Lyrically, it depicts a ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ style breaking relationship, the lovers sleeping turned away from each other in bed but still tied to each other. Sad and lovely.
‘The King And All Of His Men’
Probably the biggest tune here, this is Adam Ant-ly glam and camp, the chorus heralded in by oohs and wreaths of synth. Again, there’s hints of first-album Killers at their most jubilant but far dandier and lighter of touch than Brandon and co, like a new romantic Orange Juice. Again, beautifully structured; gets in, whirls you around, goes ‘oh look, a bridge!’ whirls you round again and is gone into the night.
Free MP3 - 'The King And All His Men (Gaggle Remix)'
Nicking a ladies’ blouse from ‘Hunky Dory’ Bowie and having a big old reverby flounce, this is sepia-romantic with lazily swinging drums bedecked with soft touches of organ and piano. “Here we go again on the cobbled streets of Paris/We’ll go dancing round the square/And everyone will stop and stare at the lovers of the night”.
The title track is named for an imaginary utopia that came to Max in a dream. Judging from this hazy, expansive track, it’s not an island escape of boshing dance-pop and Buddhist parrots like Friendly Fires’ Pala, but more like a shimmering sci-fi Arizona, somewhere between Thomas Jerome Newton’s planet from The Man Who Fell To Earth and Fantasia from The Never-Ending Story.
‘Dancing With The Devil’
The album’s rockiest moment, this picks the pace back up, electric with energy and more fraught of mood than before, a classic ‘you think you’re so clever’ ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ (or ‘Super-Connected’ for the Belly fans out there) hit out at someone who thinks they’re just so damn cool: “If you’re the chosen one/How does it feel to be loved by no one?”.
‘Where Are You Now‘
Touches of the early ’80s studio pop vibes beloved of all from Gayngs to Yeasayer to Metronomy at the moment, but kept from smooveness by Max’s insistent yowl, some tasty guitar and nagging drums.
Bowie touches again (but then, who doesn’t have some Bowie to them? Rubbish people, mostly), and you can hear the work of Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev man Fridmann here, as pop classicism and psychy vibes work hand in hand to create a grand sonic environment as spaced out as the title suggests, with chorused backing vocals and a great guitar solo. ‘Suego Faults is just a dream that I’m waking up from now ” - oooh, get you with your meta.
If influences are easy to pinpoint here and there, the little world that Wolf Gang builds with excellently chosen materials is sparklingly fresh, rich with romance and full of odd little corners to explore. Faults are few, and it’s a dream we’re looking forward to getting back to…