By: The Busted Amp Staff
The Australian rock band has, through various lineup changes and a brief breakup, somehow held onto the same formula of Led Zeppelin-eque riff-heavy hard rock despite increasing criticism, falling popularity, and almost nonexistent marketing for their last two albums. That's without even mentioning the would-be third Wolfmother album turned Andrew Stockdale solo album that was complete and utter trainwreck.
There's no doubt that their 2005 self-titled debut was one of my favorite albums of the year. That being said, I was also 14 years old in 2005 and just beginning to break out of the pop radio and classic rock repeats that were a staple of my early formative years. A little over ten years later, the same repeated formula on each subsequent Wolfmother album has made their sound stale and makes me wonder what I saw in Stockdale on the debut. Was it just a fleeting spark of brilliance that has since regressed into a mediocre songwriter and narcissistic bandleader? We shall see.
The lead single and title track, "Victorious", is the very opposite of its namesake. Yes, it's one of the better riffs on the album, but there's nothing new here. This could have been stuck on any Wolfmother album and no one would have noticed. But the biggest cringe-worthy moment is the almost self-aware line before the bridge. "Don't you ever get tired and feel like giving up? Don't you ever feel like, like you've had enough". Yes, Wolfmother, I'm really getting tired of the same ideas rehashed album after album. Yes, I really do feel like giving up on your sound. At least your self-titled had some semblance of variety because it mixed in psychedelic elements, not to mention focused on things other than electric guitar; but on this album, the few times where you try something different, it sounds like a rip of someone else's music. Even the bridge riff sounds like it's ripped off the Black Sabbath classic "Paranoid".
Continuing the theme, take the first 10 seconds of "Pretty Peggy", specifically before Andrew starts singing. At first I thought Spotify was playing an advertisement for the new Lumineers album. The only thing missing is a "HEY" or a "HO". Besides that, the lyrics are just laughable. "Roses are red, violets are blue, I will take them all and give them to you. I will stand here in the pouring rain just to see your face again". The list goes on and on. Try to take this song seriously; it's pretty difficult.
"Best of a Bad Situation" is a terrible clusterfuck of shrill vocals, an overpowered guitar mix, and unnecessarily aggressive hand claps. If this song was on the debut album, the hardly audible organ solo beginning at 1:32 would have been front and center. Instead, we have some vocal ah's that are much louder than they need to be. I can't help but wonder if Stockdale is so controlling of the Wolfmother project that he can't even briefly share the spotlight. That would explain the lack of anything beyond a guitar solo on this album, whereas on the debut album there were key solos on "Woman", bongos on "Love Train", and even a flute solo on "Witchcraft", If that's the case, I hardly blame original members Chris Ross and Myles Heskett for leaving after the first album. There's a joke here somewhere about making the best of a bad situation, but frankly it's more effort than I'm willing to put into this album.
Bottom line, if you enjoy riff rock you'll probably enjoy this album. If you're looking for some progression and evolution in Wolfmother's sound, you'll be increasingly disappointed at how basic and formulaic they've become.
My Number: 4/10
Oh how the mighty have fallen. It's hard to think now, but there was a point when Wolfmother was ready to grab the rock 'n' roll world by the devil horns and take it wherever they wanted. Their 2005 debut album really brought a lot of people into the world of modern rock, but it didn't take long for their collapse to begin. It starts with Stockdale. The man is an asshole to everyone around him, and he is one of the biggest narcissists around. His douchebaggery is on full display in his band Wolfmother has gone through countless member changes as his bandmates get tired of his obnoxious personality. Nowadays Wolfmother is populated by 2 people, Stockdale on guitar and vocals and Ian Peres on bass, with Alex Carapetis on drums only when the band goes on tour. Even he can't stand Stockdale enough to be around him all the time.
But their faults also go along the lines of what Derek said, which I 100% agree with: Wolfmother's sound has become very stale as the band essentially continues to produce more of the same music. That said, Wolfmother's style is still a very fun sound for me as I am a big fan of riff rock, but while I will openly admit that I found myself grooving along to the music, I was wishing for something more. I think the best analogy I can make when it comes to Wolfmother's music is that they are the Michael Bay of the music industry. At this point they have absolutely nothing to contribute to the industry but what they produce is essentially cheap, mindless fun. Not to mention the constant borrowing from other band's sound. Not only did the opening of "Pretty Peggy" sound like a Lumineers song, but the refrain goes out of its way to sound EXACTLY like "Some Nights" by Fun. It is a terrible song there's no denying that, but in my opinion it is surrounded by some exciting riffs and just overall fun songs like "The Love that You Give" and "Gypsy Caravan."
See, Wolfmother falls right into my Achilles heel when it comes to music: I've never cared much for lyrics. Most of the time, when I listen to music (especially rock/indie/alternative music) I'm listening for what the instruments are doing at any given moment. And what the instruments do throughout Victorious is quite fun. I know this doesn't add any depth to the album because the lyrics to almost every song is hilariously bad, but I've come to accept Wolfmother's role in music today. And when it comes to filling that role, this is the best album they've conjured up since 2009's Cosmic Egg. Can I defend it? No. But do I still like it? Yes. It's officially joining X Ambassadors latest "album" in my guilty pleasures list.
My Number: 6/10
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here.