July 2022

Second Time Lucky

Words: Gabriel Knowles Images: SPR/PPLl

The sophomore album is a tough nut to crack. Play it too safe and you’re accused of not developing musically – but take a risk by branching out and all your old fans are up in arms. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Wolf & Cub know the feeling all too well having just released their second album Science & Sorcery nearly three years after their first, Vessels.

Their fuzzy guitars and genuinely psychedelic sound shone through on a debut number that did more than enough to vindicate the presence of a second drummer in the Adelaide based quartet. Those same elements are still ever present and obviously highly influential but they’ve added a few more layers – keys, saxophone and a sampler to name a few. Apparently it’s not for everyone with some reviews bemoaning the lack of wailing and feedback from their guitars this time around, while others applauded their new found depth.

Unsurprisingly frontman Joel Byrne tends to agree with the latter school of thought. “It has a lot of weight, you aren’t going to be able to listen to it once and decide what it sounds like. On repeated listen you’re going to hear stuff you didn’t on the first listen. That’s very intentional. There’s so much in there that you’re going to be able to sift through. My favourite records are the ones that do have little treasures that all throughout them, that you gradually discover. The unexpected things.”

The divided opinions probably have as much to do with the fact that the album was produced by Chris Colonna in his hometown of Braidwood, a tiny town in southern New South Wales that’s as famous for having a butler school as anything else. With the man behind the often divisive Bumblebeez at the helm it’s little wonder then that the four piece ended up with an album that sounds as if it was influenced as much by pop as it was psychedelica. The singer doesn’t regret the path they’ve taken. “He took us out of our comfort zone and told us things we didn’t want to hear. For us that was really important. Songs we had that were okay were only going to be good if we shed some of our ideas and thoughts.” Byrne admits. “We needed him to shake us up a little bit and show us that we had wasn’t the finished product. Maybe we thought we closer to being finished than what we really were.”

It might be a common trait for the creatively minded, but not everyone can come to terms with the fact that their idea is a long way short of the finished product. “I think I hold onto an idea far too long, I think in my head it’s finished before its actually finished, I think that can be quite constricting. It prevents you from seeing the possibility of anything else which isn’t a great way to be creative, you aren’t allowing yourself to see the possibilities.” Byrne concedes before explaining just how much working with Colonna has shaped his approach.

“I don’t think I’ll have that problem again. When it came to putting down this record when we started we had an idea of what we wanted it to be but I think that’s a little defeatist. If we hadn’t worked with Chris we would have followed it a little too closely.”

“I think from now on I’ll let it evolve more naturally.”

Wolf & Cub are touring nationally until July 12

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