Wolfclub | 'Runaways' Album Review - A howling success?
The Wolfclub work ethic is undeniable. Their magnetic sound coupled with their strength in producing some of the best vocal driven Synthwave there is to offer has helped their standing amongst the luminaries of the Grid game such as Gunship and The Midnight since the release of their self-titled debut album back in 2017. In fact, it’s almost impossible to think about a Synthwave world now and not have these guys languishing somewhere within it.
Formed in 2014, the band consists of Steven Wilcoxson (producer, guitarist and songwriter) and Chris Paul-Martin (producer, vocalist, and songwriter) are from Nottingham in the UK. They are also often joined on stage by DJ Tim Hartwell and tour regularly where they can.
In a world where the Synth purists jockey for position in suggesting that “vocal synthwave is not real synthwave” would do well to sit and listen to Wolfclub for an hour. Yes, its unapologetically commercial and flies in the face of the conventional to a degree but at its true heart hasn’t severed ties with the soul of the wave in my humble opinion.
Just this month they released their eagerly anticipated ‘Runaways’ with the premiere single from the album ‘Rebels’ which is 2nd on track listing. In fact, I felt so strong about ‘Rebels’ as a single in itself I’d dedicated it its own review which you can read on the site under ‘Single Reviews’.
The first track of this album is titled ‘All we live for’. It’s most certainly a powerful opener with a soaring female vocal. Lyrically intent it punches through the synths to give the listener an engaging track from the off which resonates a little like an aperitif before a big meal. Up next we have ‘Rebels’ which as noted earlier is the first single off the new album and those who have any real ties to the scene will notice the striking similarities to Electric Youth in this track and that’s not in any means a criticism. More information on my thoughts for this track in single reviews.
Next track in ‘Fire’ didn’t set me alight sadly but it’s still an enjoyable listen nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong its certainly has the melody but there’s something missing for me. It’s almost akin to a first date knowing within the first 2 minutes that the “chemistry just isn’t there”. I’ll remain friends with it, just may not listen to the track as regularly as the multiple other Wolfclub tracks that hold a dear place in my heart.
The next Two tracks in ‘New York’ and ‘Wave of Light’ wouldn’t feel out of place as soundtracks to angst ridden teen dramas. Nothing wrong with that of course if the tracks where half decent, which they are. I’d lean heavier on ‘Wave of Light’ as the better of the two primarily as its truly engaging and a bit of a head bopper which I found was an involuntary reaction throughout.
Now. Rush, track 6 is an absolute shimmering highlight. It bounces along with such a ferocity by comparison it caught me by surprise. It’s addictive with a lively Rhythm & completely infectious. Will it deliver the metaphorical summons to Summer Lights to vacate the space in my heart? who knows but I can already hear it knocking on the door. By this stage I was already making a mental note to make this my favourite track on the album.
The remaining tracks continue at a similar pace to the initial start of the album with one outstanding exception, Track 9 and the title track to the album ‘Runaways’. The vocal in this cuts right through the synths and delivers a melancholy rush of emotions. “You don’t know me like I know you, I’ve been watching you”. After listening to this track, I was left wondering why they didn’t use this as the 1st single, but if Synthwave was a card game you wouldn’t want to show your hand too early I guess.
For those who know Wolfclub from previous hits may hold this release in good favour. Whether it’s held in higher esteem to other seminal works remains to be seen but I like it!
Favourite Track: Runways
Least Favourite: Fire
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