Since beginning as bedroom demos by front man Jack Sharp in 2005, the Wolf People project has gone through a number of transformations; becoming an actual band, touring the country and releasing EPs and albums to low frequency acclaim. This might be your first time hearing about them, but often the slow build brings to the biggest waves. No less than local wunderboys Wet Nuns put them top of the bill at Detestival last month, an extraordinary act of respect and faith because Wolf People don’t quite fit in with any one style or audience.
Live and on record, Wolf People have a trump card to get around this – absolute control and tantalising manipulation. This is central to their music in a few ways. Firstly, every audacious harmonic and metrical turn is placed just so by some of the most fantastic ensemble playing you’re going to hear from any band still hitting the UK circuit in a van. A happy marriage between virtuous feel and propulsive economy, Wolf People are both the ultimate jam band and wise enough to know when not to be, underscoring their sound with a menacing metronome, post-punk in flavor without ever becoming post-punk.
Secondly and kind of related, are the finely etched moods coming at you by the handful on each song. Sometimes it’s the heady euphoria of vocal harmonies, sometimes the disquiet of Jack’s folk-inflected singing, maybe it’s block fuzzed guitar, maybe it’ll be an anxious groove… Wolf People shouldn’t be able to pull it off at all, but they do. So well in fact you have to lean in and pay attention. Fain isn’t quick to say much about itself, so the rewards just stack up and stack by giving it proper attention.
Most importantly, Wolf People feed off their own fun and channel that enjoyment into the darkest corners of their music. All the mournfulness, anger and desperateness that punctuate these melancholy songs refuse to weigh them down, floating along with the band’s energy. For instance, ‘All Returns’ begins with a lightbeam folk tune followed by a fearful (albeit funky) look over the shoulder, with every step in every mood resolutely gorgeous. As their name suggests, Wolf People have created in ‘Fain’ something savage, monstrous, mythic – making something great from their best instincts, doing their best to sidestep stultifying cynicism.