“Turbowolf? Who are they?” asked a friend of mine recently. The slightly mocking tone in their voice did not escape me and I got the impression they were expecting me to tell them that this time I was reviewing a parody rock band. What else could they be with a name like that? They could be a legitimate, demanding-to-be-taken-seriously rock band, that’s what.
My chum’s innocent, maybe mildly insulting, inquiry will not have been the first time Turbowolf’s name has generated such a response I’ll wager. I’d also put cold, hard cash on the fact that once anybody pays this album the attention it deserves that name will have nothing to do with the Spinal Tap universe and everything to do with an inexhaustible supply of fully justified, simmering confidence spewing out (it would seem) perhaps surprisingly solid slabs of music.
It only took until half way through the third consecutive playing of ‘Two Hands’ for me to feel slightly disappointed in myself for not having discovered Turbowolf sooner. It isn’t often that a band can pebble-dash your ears with such a range of progressive riffage without it turning into some kind of over-indulgent, audio-trudge (yes Mastodon, I’m looking at you) but these songs avoid it by becoming on-rushing, sonic streams of consciousness that do just enough to make their point and then leave you wanting more but eager to see what’s next all at once.
The component parts of these eleven songs, each one a driving, lively machine, are diverse. You get tastes of everything from psychedelic synths to 80s metal (‘Invisible Hands’ and ‘American Mirrors’), prog rock to R&B (‘Nine Lives’ and ‘Rich Gift’) in the right amounts. Material that, at first, can seem too varied to have any kind of sensible attention span associated with it reveals itself more and more to be a calculated and purposeful display of a broad creativity with each listen. The uber-confidence that permeates the whole album is one of its main strengths. There are plenty of weird bits and some pretty large jumps in texture and tone that require you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of the songs (and the whole album actually) but the way everything is put together and crafted gives the impression that the band are so sure of their footing at every turn the end result can only be a good one.
This is a release comprised of a million different moving parts that intertwine to form one big, fully functioning, lightning-powered beast; sometimes anthemic, sometimes euphoric, sometimes beautifully out there. By releasing these songs, Turbowolf have given us a new and fresh audioscape to offer some shelter from the often less exciting outside world.