There’s a good record here, even if it might not always hit their previous giddy heights.
Label: Universal Music Catalogue
Released: 19th February 2016
It’s hard not to feel a wave of joy as Andrew Stockdale gloriously and eccentrically rolls the ‘r’ of ‘riding’ in the first line of title-track ‘Victorious’. Wolfmother are back. Indeed, ‘Victorious’ is something of a comeback record, and it has the feel of being a bit stripped-back, maybe not as dark or stoner-rock influenced as their second album ‘Cosmic Egg’, or as raw and MC5-like as their self-released ‘New Crown’. The formula has changed; more immediate and with fewer layers of instrumentation, aimed at a younger, if similarly long-haired, crowd than the teenagers now approaching 30 who bought their debut in 2005.
The weakest track, understandably, is the radio-friendly, festival sing-along style cut ‘Pretty Peggy’, a dire rock upon which Wolfmother needlessly dash themselves. When balladeering, they’ve always been stronger when sticking to the posi-stomping psych of ‘Vagabond’ from their first album, or the dark melodrama of ‘Caroline’ from ‘Cosmic Egg’. The kitsch, calculated approach falls flat for a band that are at their best when they don’t over-think things.
Luckily, ‘City Lights’ is an effervescently paced, riff-happy uptempo number that gets things right back on track. ‘Best of a Bad Situation’ meanwhile, reminds of nobody so much as legendary NYC garage rockers The Mooney Suzuki, and ‘Gypsy Caravan’ shows off the kind of kitsch that does work for them – lyrics stuffed full of classic psychedelic imagery combined with fuzzed out guitars and organ call-and-response.
Once again, the most frequent criticism that will be levelled at Wolfmother will be a lack of originality. Leave that aside however, and there’s a good record here, even if it might not always hit the giddy heights of their first two albums. Alex Lynham