Strictly in terms of cool and irregular influences, Wolf People are a crate-digger’s dream. Albums by May Blitz, Mighty Baby and Third World War all nurture a commendably unlikely skill-set for any young band to possess, but what emerges stakes out its very own doggedly idiosyncratic territory. For all the time they evidently spend looking over their shoulder, Wolf People give no impression of being beholden to easy nostalgia and slavish mimicry.
Fain, the band’s second album, combines the stern harmonies and apocalyptic dread of the bleakest English folk-rock with Can’s inscrutable emotional neutrality and towering fuzztone tsunamis of avant-noise. This potentially unsustainable mixture could appear mannered and unconvincing in less capable hands, but Wolf People invest every glowering note with a watchful intensity that signifies their unswerving dedication. Whether it’s the Richard Thompson-grade desolation of Thief, the flinty Green Manalishi riffing of NRR or the stark Little Johnny Jewel aridity of Answer, the players are permanently on the same page. And they’re real players too, frequently revealing a dauntless improvisatory fervour that hasn’t passed this way often enough in recent years. When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate, with its double-helix guitar parts, could even coax residual Wishbone Ash fans into getting with the programme.