Aside from featuring on the seminal C86 collection issued by the New Musical Express in … 1986, underground-alt-godheads The Wolfhounds released prolifically-terrifically before disbanding in 1990.
Their distinctive sound was ripe for a return in 2005; a reminder to the young mimics on the bloc (party) that (l)imitation is the clearest form of chancery.
St Etienne’s Bob Stanley’s curation-commemoration of the hallowed mixtape at the ICA in 2006 provided the spur for the group to re-band and record. Then in March 2016 comedi-fan Stewart Lee invited them to play the last ever All Tomorrow’s Parties in Wales.
Renovation = veneration. The innovators are back: the past was theirs, the present is too.
LP number six is the fantastically titled (and timed) Untied Kingdom (… or how to come to terms with your culture) which throws down the gauntlet to the shirkers, the lurkers, the cynics, all aforementioned mimics. A state of the nation address that veers between pop-phoria and dys-funktional dance-all, it’s a cerebral cavalcade of chaos and creation.
The gravely intoned ‘Apparition’ commences the album, a ghostly sermon to raise the hackles and stir the soul. Preach for the stars. ‘Now I’m A killer’ is all wiry, spindly, warping guitars that front a cacophonous percussion cushion, no soft landings here as the entrance to Hell awaits YOU.
‘My Legendary Childhood’ has Dave Callahan’s sardonically spluttered lyrics (“there was no money to be had”) backed by and Terry ‘Gallon Drunk’ Edwards’s sax-drive culminating in a jingly-jangly nightmarish finale.
‘Thanks’ hits the melancholy button in exquisite fashion, wailing guitars and a withering riposte to a.n.other. The abrupt close to proceedings the ultimate kiss-off.
The superlative clang-along ‘Stupid Poor’ is scabrous social commentary, derisively finger-pointing at “the stupid poor always want more… coming for your TV… get what they deserve”. THEM, the tabloids’ scourge (and breadwinners), the bane of the “real working classes”, those aspirational achievers whose grasp on the rung above grows more precarious by the day, must keep stretching, maintain that grip. One day it could be YOU. An anthem for these times. The closing rasp “Gotta keep ‘em dancing” a bread and circuses mantra 2.0. Ian Duncan Smith listens with glee.
Trippy traveller ode ‘Lucky Heather’ articulates the (mis)fortune the titular ‘heroine’ bestows on our protagonist resulting in a dubby-disco-descent into darkness. Sparse and stark, ‘Oppositeland’ articulates the dichotomy of the “Me, me, me” society.
‘Fire In The Home’ is a deathly lament that spooks and shivers, the refrain one of “they died alone” an image that lingers as ‘The Comedians’ lurches in, it’s no laughing matter this jerky-jaunty-chop-a-thon with a sucker-punchline. The joke’s on us all.
Neither time nor age has withered the potency, the ferocity and the literacy of this pioneering band. Evoking/invoking no one but themselves (a rare feat nowadays), this is a C86-cess once again.
Anger is an energy, get charged.
Untied Kingdom (… or how to come to terms with your culture) is out now via Odd Box Records.