Melancholic strummy rock made for radio 6.
I discovered Sea Wolf about five years ago and quickly gobbled up his back catalogue. What I’ve noticed with Sea Wolf is that you know exactly what you are getting with each album. Sad yet anthemic acoustic guitar driven rock. When paired with his weary and inquisitive vocals – he needs little else. It is a match made in heaven.
‘Through A Dark Wood’ continues with little change to the formula but overall the album is one of more electric that he has released so far. After the initial instrumental, the electric guitar takes much more of a central stage in the mix of each song. Driving riffs like the one from ‘Break It Down’ feel grittier and there is a grizzly growl in the production this time around. That doesn’t make the songs ‘better’ specifically but the album feels crunchier as a result.
This then makes the effortlessly anthemic choruses or codas to Sea Wolf’s music feel a little more urgent and pressured. ‘Blood Pact’ certainly explodes with its stop/start pacing. ‘Fear of Failure’ feels multilayered too. Whereas before the acoustic chords would be fine on their own, a wailing electric guitar adds just a pinch of spice and angst to things. All these tracks are some of the finest examples of Sea Wolf is able to put create.
The second half of the album starts to move away from the usual big chord progressions and starts to play with darker, moodier themes. ‘Under the Spell Again’ is immensely catchy whilst playing with spooky folk tones. The guitars have a distance to them that bleeds gently over the rolling drums and heavy bass. ‘Moving Colors’ and ‘I Went Up, I Went Down’ follow a similar vibe and as a trio, they capture the dark forest theme of the folksy rock that Sea Wolf makes. ‘Frank O Hara’ removes the guitars and replaces them with vocals and strings for a lush and warm speed ballad. It is full of dense atmosphere before the romantic ‘Two of Us’ rounds off the album with a positive uplift.
‘Through A Dark Wood’ is everything I excepted from Sea Wolf and yet strangely it still doesn’t feel tired or old. His music is so effortless and smooth – even with this grittier production – that its like ear milk. There isn’t much music that I think you could place on mainstream radio, a quirky indie festival and on Higher Plain Music and they’d all get rave reviews. Sea Wolf is the one that would bridge the gap. Superb.
Recommended track: Fear of Failure
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