|Turbowolf - 'Two Hands' (Spinefarm Records/Search & Destroy)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Wednesday, 01 April 2015 02:00|
Like many of my fellow countrymen I feel a strange kinship with the people of Bristol, mainly because we have to travel to the city almost every week to see a touring band just plain scared of crossing the bridge.
Now, the strangest of the Bristolians has been, for a number of years, the audio collective known as Turbowolf. I have marvelled at the eclectic awesomeness of the band while simultaneously despairing at the proles who just don't get it. Yes, this was a band that truly did split an audience right down the middle - the clued-in to the left, the clueless, appropriately, to the right. But the times, it seems, are a-changing. With second album, the incredible 'Two Hands', Turbowolf are going to climb the ladder of acclaim quickly, a couple of rungs at a time, at least.
It's not that the band has even hinted at squinting its ethos, either: it's just that the world has blurred the lines of convention that little bit more in the three and a half years between the band's debut - 2011's self-titled long player - and this new album. That first album was critically-acclaimed, deservedly so, but you feel that 'Two Hands' will shift some serious units to accompany the plaudits.
I mean, it wasn't that long ago that two-piece bands were still viewed as freakish - now they go straight to Number One in the UK album chart and win Brit Awards. Turbowolf's recent support slot on Royal Blood's UK tour couldn't have hurt in the run-up to this sophomore album's release - and it seems sooooo long since its details were first announced - but, believe me, this band doesn't need a coattail or two to ride on any longer: 'Two Hands' is nothing short of spectacular.
The members of Turbowolf still appear to do whatever the fuck they want, on record at least, but they've managed to couple that uniqueness that made them so jaw-dropping a spectacle live with some purely gorgeous flytrap hooks that, once in your head, won't be shifted in a hurry.
With 'new' bass player Lianna Lee Davies settled in the band line-up (she's been there for two years now, as it happens) Turbowolf are as tight as a loose, crazed noisebeast surely can be. That said, they've invited some friends around to help make this album just that little bit more special: it's co-produced by Tom Dalgety, who worked on Dinosaur Pile-Up's excellent 'Nature Nurture' and the debut album from some unknowns working under the bandname 'Royal Blood'; Pulled Apart By Horses frontman Tom Hudson shares vocal duties with 'Wolf singer Chris Georgiadis on 'Good Hand'; Fingerprints of the Gods author Graham Hancoc offers a spoken word intro to 'Twelve Houses'; Chantal Brown of Vodun appears on 'Rich Gift', while the band's former member Betty Cottam turns up on 'Rabbits Foot', the first single to be lifted from the new album.
These guest appearances simply add to the experience because this is one mind-blowing piece of work: you'd think that, in years to come, those guests will dine out on the fact that they appeared on it.
Some of the riffs that guitarist Andy Ghosh works out of his instrument are mammoth, all-conquering, and effortlessly cool. They hit like hammer blows when least expected, but generally provide the fuzzed-out spine of the record.
It's the songs, though, that truly shine - each one a near-perfect example of how a band that, given its apparent weird qualities, shouldn't be able to bottle lightning and create something as wonderful as this... but has. And to the benefit of our ears, happily.
Opener 'Invisible Hand' teases with a most subtle of intros, before unleashing a noise so cataclysmic that you'll already know that you're in the company of something life-affirming, -altering almost, within the album's first minute.
'Solid Gold' sums up Turbowolf for me, though: the intro's blend of unchartered musicianship and mantra-like sample gives way to a humongous riff, a great vocal, and a seductive backing vocal around which its appeal revolves. It resides both under the radar and over the top... and there you have the spirit of Turbowolf.
'American Mirrors' is as heavy as things get here, the most straightahead of all the tracks on offer, but its straighforwardness is its appeal alongside the more frenetic ideas unfurled around it, while 'Nine Lives' couples a glunk rock riff to Georgiadis' crazy synth and with it creates a marriage made in heaven, hell, or somewhere in between.
Turbowolf has, somehow, managed to fashion an album that plays out like an epic long player, yet is riddled with hook-laden potential singles. You all know what happens to albums like this, right? They are universally adored and never - NEVER - forgotten.
Buy this and forget yourself for an hour. Then another. Then another.
A genuine album of the year contender.