Wolf Gang - Suego Faults

Wolf Gang - Suego Faults

The long-awaited debut album from Wolf Gang treads enjoyable if not ground-breaking territory.


What’s most disconcerting about ‘Suego Faults’ as a whole is how mature the album sounds, considering it’s the musical baby of twenty-something Max McElligott. Perhaps its final form owes a lot to producer Dave Fridmann, who managed to craft this album with the London-based McElligott on and off during the better part of a year, when the former wasn’t working with Flaming Lips on their album. The long-awaited debut album from Wolf Gang (McElligott and a backing band) treads enjoyable if not ground-breaking territory, showing off McElligott’s promising songwriting skills. And a possible future direction… of sounding like Queen?

When Wolf Gang is good, it’s very good. Originally signed to Neon Gold, the act’s current label Atlantic wasted no time in commandeering the three most radio-friendly tracks as singles. ‘Lions in Cages’ begins atmospherically before pounding in with Keane-esque piano and drums and winging its way to an expansive singalong of a chorus, barely veiling its escapist story. But the crown jewels of ‘Suego Faults’ are tracks ‘The King and All of His Men’ and ‘Dancing with the Devil’: the former bounces with peppy piano and synths, and the latter punctuated with jangly guitar and thudding drums. In both, McElligott voice rises in song, but with what might be unexpected conviction; this proves there is more to him than what you on the surface.

To the single purchase downloaders out there, it’s worth noting that the album has several non-single tracks that are also filed in the ‘good’ category. One of these is ‘Stay and Defend’. Such a boring title for a great song. There is no great classical rock god on the British music scene today than Patrick Wolf, and this one would have felt at home on Wolf’s latest ‘Lupercalia’, accompanied by winsome lyrics and equally winsome lyrics. ‘Back to Back’ is a slinky little number designed to seduce. And ‘Where Are You Now’ hums along as a more conventional r&b dance song, as if borrowing the funk from Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost!

Unfortunately, there are a couple on here that are less successful. The rest of the album sounds like McElligott was channeling legends of yesteryear. ‘Something Unusual’ and title track ‘Suego Faults’ could have been Elton John in his ‘70s heyday. Classic Hall and Oates appear to have been resurrected for ‘Midnight Dancers’. Wolf Gang’s parting shot ‘Planets’ is heavy-handed, with Freddie Mercury-style falsetto and orchestrated with a sci-fi grandeur that will likely go over the heads of the people whose heads were bopping to first single ‘Lions in Cages’. So what we can take from ‘Suego Faults’? Max McElligott should be applauded, as it’s obvious he has a lot of ideas musically. How successful he’ll be in the future will depend on whether he can focus those ideas into a clearer vision.