Wolf People, self-described as UK psych, rock and folk, release their fourth full-length album, entitled Ruins, on November 11. The band hails from England’s Barnoldswick, Bedford and London, and have been together and active since 2006. Although this is their fourth full-length album, they have released a combination of ten other singles, EPs and compilations — all of which are readily available in vinyl. The band’s record label, Jagjaguwar, has been marketing the new album as a movement towards the discussion of environmental issues. Joe Hollick and Jack Sharp are on guitar, the latter doubling as the group’s vocalist; Tom Watt is on drums, and Ross Harris and Daniel Davies play the flute and bass, respectively.
“Night Witch” has been released as a single, with its own music video, a week before the full album is available to the public. Listening closely, you’re able to hear some of Wolf People’s presumed influences: Rush’s progressive, or prog, rock guitar solos and riffs are present in “Night Witch”, although they are mixed with some of the 60s band’s earlier psychedelic rock tones. Wolf People takes prog rock and mixes it with psychedelic vocals — you hear lead vocalist Jack Sharp as though you are listening to him in a dream; the vocals are soft, haunting and float amidst the instrumentals.
The song also embodies some psych tones from Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds, both revolutionary 60s psych rock groups. As for contemporary influences, Wolf People also sounds oddly similar to The Sheepdogs, a self-described “rock and roll” band from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; sometimes they sounds like a psychedelic version of the Canadian band and sometimes they just simply sound like themselves. Another contemporary comparison might be Wolfmother’s acoustic renditions. All in all, Wolf People are clearly influenced by 1960s prog guitar and psych rock waves.
“Kingfisher”, track four on Ruins, is a stand-out track. It holds true to the rest of the album, but stands out as unique due to its slow start. “Kingfisher” instrumentally expands upon itself, spreading out into lyrics on how nature has been ignored. The lyrics meditate on humans, calling them “blind and overcome with greed”. The guitars don’t come in until two minutes into the song — harsher than before, as well — and in that time of two minutes ethereal harmonies are explored. Although “Kingfisher” still has rock elements, it is a true example of the band’s psych folk influences. Not only that, but “Kingfisher Reprise” and “Kingfisher Reprise 2” revisit the same haunting melodies periodically throughout the rest of the album, sitting at track seven and ten.
Wolf People seem to use their music as a platform from which to discuss environmental issues and ideas of nature itself. The title uses the idea of ruin in order to bring attention to the fate of present-day society — unless serious action is taken. Sharp notes, in an article by author Benjamin Myers, that although it isn’t a concept album, there are a lot of songs that consider what the world might be like without humans.
“The title refers to the ruins of civilization,” said Sharp. “I suppose like many people — especially now — we’re constantly veering towards complete frustration with the human race one moment, and celebrating all the positive things about humanity the next.”