Wolf People

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Tidings Review

by James Allen

Tidings is perhaps not quite an "official" debut album in that it compiles the singles Wolf People have released thus far, paving the way for their proper debut, but plenty of bands have started out exactly the same way, and it's as enthralling an introduction to the young British band's kaleidoscopic beard-rock world as anyone could want. It's impossible to talk about Tidings without discussing its obvious antecedents, just as it's impossible to assess the Rolling Stones' early recordings without mentioning the Chess blues roster. Wolf People basically sound like John Peel's wet-dream band circa 1970, as they appear to have soaked up all manner of late-‘60s/early-‘70s psych, folk-rock, proto-prog, and blues-rock influences. Traffic, Family, the Edgar Broughton Band, early (pre-prog) Jethro Tull, and the quirkier side of Cream seem to be the most obvious touchstones, but making one's way through Tidings is like thumbing through the battered vinyl collection of your weird uncle with the long, gray hair who still talks about following Hawkwind around in 1971; one moment there's a stuttering guitar lick that screams early Mothers of Invention, the next there's a stately romp that could have fallen out of the back of the Fairport Convention van during their Liege and Lief tour, and enough backwards guitars and tootling flutes to fill 50 psych-folk samplers. It should be noted that Wolf People seem not to have shied away from these types of references, either. The Rock Journalism 101 cliché is to say that a band like this assimilates the lessons of the past and pumps them out in a way that's distinctly "today," but that's not exactly the case. While the music of Wolf People is undeniably vibrant, vital, and visceral, it does not attempt to put any modern (or post-modern) spin on its building blocks; rather, it embraces all the aforementioned influences and moves out into the world as a living, breathing, very natural extension of them. Who could ask for anything more?

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