Five years since Wolfmother’s 2009 release Cosmic Egg Andrew Stockdale revives the Wolfmother moniker whilst keeping with the same musicians who were part of his solo album Keep Moving bringing some nice riffs, solos and lots of distortion to your speakers!
For the most part Wolfmother’s New Crown album is a much more accessible album than Andrew Stockdale’s 2013 Keep Moving album which was almost 73 minutes long, with no real reason for it being so. New Crown is 41 minutes long, much faster and packs a greater punch, whilst not being perfect or revolutionary it has a few decent, hard, and fast moments presented in a raw Lo-fi sound, albeit sometimes quite poorly.
The album opener “How Many Times” is a good way to kick off the album, whilst it isn’t exactly ground breaking, the first minute and a half has quite a catchy riff, drums from the school of John Bonham and a fast road trip groove to it. Lyrically is where the song lacks most, it’s amateurish and easily forgettable and by the end of the song your attention wavers as you quickly realise it’s just the same riff and boring lyrics repeated but that said it almost gets away with it being only 2 minutes 40 long.
“Enemy Is In Your Mind” is the second track and probably my favourite. It’s a throwback to the classic Ozzy era Black Sabbath; which works much better for Wolfmother and Stockdale than I anticipated. The song brings in a heavy, moody, chugging riff very reminiscent of the classic Black Sabbath song “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” and the drawn out stoner rock feel of this song lasts for the next three songs. This sound seems to working for them, but it’s out of place compared to four slower songs sandwiched between which is where the album falls down for me, there’s no direction.
The tempo and production is all over the place throughout the album ranging from the sometimes very complementary fuzzy lo-fi to so raw and distorted it’s almost like ‘a group of teenagers playing Black Flag covers in their parent’s garage.’ This punk sound takes place on the song “Feelings” which has a really sloppy out of time punk intro and a fast beat, again lyrically uninspired however is a nice break from the slower previous four songs. You soon realise how out of place that song is on the album compared to “I Ain’t Got No” Stockdale sounds like Paul Stanley and Mick Jagger here, it’s confusing and once again lyrically sub-par.
Three songs remain on the album to redeem it and turn around the loss of direction in the middle of the album. Track eight “She Got It” is the best of the final three songs, probably because it’s much shorter and the production is listenable, unlike the intro to the next song “My Tangerine Dream” which would have been better turned into an instrumental – the drawling psychedelic sounding vocals doesn’t work well for the song or the album. The final song “Radio” doesn’t need to be five minutes long, it has its moments but it could have had them in two minutes, there is so much filler in the last two songs which really bring the album to a lacklustre ending.
In recent years bands like the Bronx and Gallows has proved you can be raw and anthemic. Airbourne proved you can be polished, anthemic and still very rock and roll. So that being said, I don’t see what Stockdale is trying to prove on New Crown with his production, is it the ultimate f*ck you salute with the Lo-fi anti-production, none conformity Rock ‘N’ Roll sound? Is it the laziness and arrogance of Axl Rose style of rock and roll? Whatever the direction and reason for the decision, it failed, the sloppiness and distortion makes you turn down a Rock ‘N’ Roll album, rather than cranking it up and letting it devour your entire being and rattle the foundations of your house!
In short the album does have its good moments, but those moments are very clichéd and the quality of song writing isn’t good enough to outweigh the seriously sloppy production through out the album. That said though a few select cuts from the album could make welcome additions on a playlist for a road trip or a barbecue in the blazing summer and therefore effectively turning the album into a good EP rather than a flawed and filled out album.