Review Summary: While still as thick skin as ever when it comes to criticism, Wolfmother's 3rd LP proves the band are far from relevant
Given credit where it’s due, Wolfmother have always done things on their own terms, so when they did succeed it never seemed insincere or worthy of being referred to as ‘selling out’. Their debut LP was enjoyable, but little more than a Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin inspired homage, with the likes of “Woman” and “The Joker & the Thief” providing nothing more than air guitar theatrics and head banging choruses of cocaine-sized proportions. The problem was though that past said eponymous debut, they found success was hard to hit again- Cosmic Egg
was little more than a trudge through those same core values, homogenized for the sake of the audience they’d attracted. The catch? They didn’t care, and if the dire sales and critical appathy are anything to go by, it seemed the only thing to go off of was that Andrew Stockdale was intent people still wanted to listen.
So after some tirades at ‘hip’ media outlets for not caring and releasing a snooze inducing solo album, Andrew Stockdale has put out another effort under the Wolfmother moniker to little in the way of entertainment. Absent of anything resembling a single, “How Many Times” is a rather forgettable attempt at the band doing their fuzz rock thing again in 2014. Following up on “Enemy is in Your Mind”, “Heavy Weight” and the title track, the bands’ penchant for Iommi-sized riffs and Blue Cheer sludge is deplorable at best. Containing little in the way of lyrical content (pithy kingdoms the likes of which Ronnie James Dio would think up on his uninspired days), the band rely too heavily on their riffs to charge songs which, frankly, aren’t up to much. Take the attempts at a Rainbow style epic on “Tall Ships”, which feel bored and lacking in muscle.
If there were any positives to get from this, it’s that despite the complete lack of originality and entertainment, Stockdale is quite clearly having fun with this material, absent on his solo album Keep Moving
. “Feelings”, “She Got It” and “”I Ain’t Got No”” are rather enjoyable blasts of Stooges inspired punk rock, but again, you can’t help but think to yourself that the MC5 probably did this a lot better 40 years ago. Arguably, the only redeeming factor is the penultimate track “My Tangerine Dream”, prime ersatz Zeppelin homage that at least captures the epic sonic size they dream so hard of having.
Critics and audiences have rarely been kind to Wolfmother and it’s questionable they’ll change their minds after listening to this run-of-the-mill effort. While concise and superficially entertaining to the less critical amongst us, Stockdale shows very little concern towards actually evolving as an artist and instead resting on his own sense of admiration for his ‘70s superstars. The problem is this is hardly entertaining or engaging for anyone other than Stockdale, and whether it finds an audience 8 years on from their debut is anybody’s guess.