It seems that even Wolfmother’s fans know that the band is something of a guilty pleasure, with their recycled brand of rock ‘n roll hitting home with listeners that either aren’t old enough to know that it’s been done before, or old timers wishing to reclaim a bit of the bombast of the days of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. That’s not to say that frontman Andrew Stockdale doesn’t come up with some nasty riffs and ear-piercing barks at the moon, it’s just that they are so steeped in 70’s sound and style that Wolfmother albums ought to be issued with a tattered denim jacket reeking of cheep weed. The band has undergone a massive turnover since their self-titled breakthrough in 2006, with two thirds of the group departing in 2008 when bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett quit the band, leaving Stockdale (who’s always been the star of whatever circus Wolfmother represents) to gather some session musicians together to record the follow up. The result is ‘Cosmic Egg’, which certainly is bound to please most of the fans of the over-the-top sonic madness of Wolfmother’s first album, but ultimately the record adds nothing new to the heavy metal cannon and essentially fails to justify Stockdale’s deliberate efforts in keeping the band going.
Producer Alan Moulder brings out a heavier, grittier sound from the group on ‘Cosmic Egg’, especially during the high-octane opening, with both ‘California Queen’ and lead single ‘New Moon Rising’ both managing to rattle the walls with the band’s well-worn, often overwrought sound. It’s loud, brash and all a bit mindless in a good way, and if the album would’ve continued along this vein it would’ve been a whole lot more effective and successful. But it seems that the songs, and the band, become a bit tired after the fiery start of the album, fracturing (like a cosmic egg, if you will) into songs whose potency only seems to fade as the record progresses, until the logical next step is to play a ballad.
And the ballads on the album are simply dreadful, with ‘In The Morning’ and the abysmal ‘Far Away’ representing some of the worst songs you’re bound to hear this year. Why songs as insufferable as these made the final cut for the album is anyone’s guess, but more than likely Stockdale just didn’t have anything better to draw from, and perhaps wanted to show his vulnerability to an audience only accustomed to his stony, edgier side. Whatever the case may be, these ballads are utter dreck, and ultimately kills any type of churning, volatile momentum that the album comes close to building.
Undoubtedly, there are plenty of songs on ‘Cosmic Egg’ that will cause many drunken fists to be raised in the air, with both the title track and ‘Pilgrim’ standing out as potential Festival-pleasers. But on an album that clearly is drawing on the past for inspiration and lacks any real innovation of its own, the act grows tired by the end of the record, and the songs become exceedingly repetitious and rather indistinguishable. For while the riffs are indeed loud and brash, they don’t really sound new or all that imaginative, and when paired with lyrics that come off as trifling and far too fantastical, these songs just loose all of their impact and end up painting a cartoonish caricature of rock music instead of creating anything lasting or worthwhile.
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