Wolf People

Fain

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On their second album, Fain, British rockers Wolf People deliver the type of controlled psychedelia and fuzz-bathed prog that defined "album rock" in the mid-'70s. Earlier albums drew comparisons to the bluesy classic rock of Cream or Jethro Tull, and while Fain definitely retains those reference points, the eight tunes weave together into a singular mood, touching on elements of U.K. folk, underground psych, and even early metal before it's all over. Wolf People holed up in an isolated countryside house for the recording of Fain, working deep into the nights on the songs and tapping into some of the rainy, ominous vibes of their surroundings much in the same way Led Zeppelin might have when recording in mystical haunted houses back in the day. Singer/guitarist Jack Sharp sings with a hushed reserve, sounding like Fairport Convention-era Richard Thompson on tracks like "Answer" and "Hesperus." The band's experimentation with guitar tones and witchy proto-prog riffing owes more to lesser-known '70s acts like Dark and the Groundhogs than the Captain Beefheart or Jethro Tull influence of earlier albums, and in their heaviest moments, Wolf People rock with all the paranoid energy of Sabotage-era Black Sabbath. Fain sounds far more like a product of 1973 than 2013, but rather than soaking the album in overly nostalgic retro production, Wolf People instead wear their influences proudly while expanding on them. Production is crisp and dry rather than coated in throwback reverb, giving standout tracks like "All Returns" the stark feeling of an early winter morning, with even its most frenzied solos and jagged fuzz guitars sharply in focus. Clearly disciples of the era of album rock, Wolf People have created a record that works best when taken as a whole piece, and when experienced as such, it creates a unique environment that's cold, cryptic, mysterious, and startlingly direct all at once.

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