March 5, 2018 Turbowolf – The Free Life (Album Review)
Turbowolf have made a name for themselves with influences and output that covers the entire genre of electrified music – everything from Garage Rock, to Punk, to Heavy Metal, to Psychedelia – and their third album, The Free Life, is no different. The Free Life arrives on Friday, March 9, 2018, thanks to SO Recordings.
Hailing from the city of Bristol, England, the band includes Chris Georgiadis on vocals/synthesizers, Lianna Lee Davies on bass, Andy Ghosh on guitar, and Blake Davis on drums, and this album was recorded and tweaked in vocalist Georgiadis’ apartment, the front room of which had been converted into a makeshift studio. Opines Georgiadis, “Isolation followed by concentration seems to be the way we end up working.”
The band also describes this latest effort as one meant to be consumed in one go rather than broken into individual tracks for piecemeal listening, capturing the essence of the frantic recording process.
After a whispered intro, the album hits the ground with “No No No,” whose title is backed by high-pitched vocals and three slow beats of a steel drum. About halfway through the track, the band departs for outer space with syrupy keyboards, returns to earth again, and then departs permanently before fading into the next track, “Capital X.” This second track lays the groundwork for a peppering of guest appearances, the first two of which are brought by Joe Talbot of Bristol neighbors Idles; he was the one whispering the album opener, and here he adds proper vocals to “Capital X,” a garage romp which quickly leaves focus and is maybe the album’s only hiccup.
These two opening tracks also appear to set a rough expectation for the album overall: any track hovering around a few minutes in length, including “Capital X” and “Cheap Magic” – the latter a robotic effort featuring Sebastian Grainger of Death From Above – is bound to be focused on a single narrative with little variation. On the other hand, the longer tracks, such as the opener “No No No” and later tracks “Very Bad” and “Last Three Clues,” will likely present multiple facets and shifts.
“Very Bad” begins with some ominous keyboards before breaking into a runaway vibe which bounces over the spacey vocals of Georgiadis and tempered drumming of Davis. Keeping with other longer songs, the middle of the track opens into a hypnotic verse of whispered vocals before returning to a breakneck pace. Chantal Brown of Psyche-Metal outfit Vodun lends his vocal help here.
Similarly, “Last Three Clues” eases from a barren landscape into straight-ahead fuzz rock, briefly devolving into a chilled-out break that features some especially psychedelic keyboards. After the track returns to the fuzz, it closes with what feels like the band and its audience boarding an escape pod and whisking away from the earlier parts of the track.
The languid beginning of “Up N Atom” quickly takes a turn to the aggressive, before resuming the languid, almost distant vocals. The song wraps by combining the two veins and fading off into obscurity with a bit of production magic. Contrast this with “Black Hole,” the next track, which breaks immediately into a punkish march that takes a break in the middle just to get heavier.
The album closes with the slow approach of the title track, eventually building speed into a loud romp whose vocals do not kick in for a few minutes. In an odd twist, all instruments, vocals included, follow the exact same progression for the verses, before breaking their separate ways for the chorus. The track reaches a near-glacial pace before returning with a vengeance. The aptly-titled “Concluder” is a stripped-down acoustic number with Georgiadis and the occasional wail of an electric guitar.
The band certainly have a unique sound but their influences do come through, most notably “Half Secret” and it is not-so-subtle nod to “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins, as well as “Domino” and its vibe recalling early and recent Monster Magnet.
Always a hard band to pin down, Turbowolf have outdone themselves again with The Free Life. A fun, ethereal trip through the mind of some talented if twisted musicians and songwriters, the journey only has a few bumps along the way. A solid listen, CrypticRock gives The Free Life 4 out of 5 stars.