Ezra Koenig once said that the only thing Vampire Weekend agreed on when starting out was that they would not become a Trip hop band; so derivative a genre was it, that they decided they had more dignity than that. Listening to Mt. Wolf’s second album you only wish this band would have come to a similar conclusion.
Following the departure of singer Kate Sproule, the band has decided to continue as a trio. Rather than choosing to spend time finding a suitable replacement, it seems that the remaining members have proceeded to rake through their mid-noughties record collections to produce this underwhelming, “Post-rock By Numbers” soundscape. Mt. Wolf’s debut album ‘Aetherlight’ sees the band going through an awkward transitional phase, where they fail to source a concrete musical identity.
The fact that ‘Aetherlight’s producer worked as an engineer on Sigur Ros’ 2012 album Valuation should come as no surprise to listeners as, in their best moments, Mt Wolf recall the Icelandic rockers. But at other times they do sound a bit like The Editors – those other mid-noughties chart-toppers. Which begs the question: seeing as these bands were relevant almost a decade ago, where is the need for music this unadventurous in 2017?
Any hopes of developing an atmosphere are constantly thwarted by febrile attempts at sounding epic. Again and again, the nagging sound of the most uninspired acoustic guitar strumming burrows in its listeners’ ears while the chord progression repeatedly fails to take flight. In regard to the numerous hollow catharses present on the record, its title begins to seem like a cruel joke. In lieu of establishing an emotional connection with the listener, the content of the album languishes somewhere between prog-rock spaciousness and basic song-craft. Consequently, it ends up being strongly reminiscent of incidental music. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mt. Wolf appeared at the crescendo moments of Made In Chelsea.
Since her departure, Sproule (AKA Bo Rocha) has begun to establish herself as a creditable solo artist; her music is evocative of those long nights which follow the arduous days of twenty first century life. Bo Rocha engages her listeners with increased emotional transparency and a more contemporary, beat-based electronic sound. Conversely, Mt. Wolf have released an stretched-out, meandering bore of a record – one more appropriate for a Music College thesis project than a comeback album.