Alveron Album Review
When I first met these young Londoners two years ago, they were riding a nice wave of success, powered by their breakthrough debut album Suego Faults. Way back then, in the summer of 2012, they were already chatting about their soon to be completed follow-up release.
Since that steamy night at The Social, they’ve seemingly been in a continuous effort to release that long-awaited sophomore effort. Finally, two weeks ago, Alveron, Wolf Gang’s follow-up to Suego Faults hit the streets. I’ve caught them live three times, interviewed frontman Max McElligott, and chatted with the other band members now and then. Being the astute rock critic that I am, I knew exactly what to expect on this album. Uh, not so fast. Apparently, I am not the next Lester Bangs because I was absolutely wrong.
I was expecting an album filled with catchy pop ditties, destined to cross-over into Top 40 as the band continued their inevitable rise. What we see on Alveron, is different from my vision, quite different; but the sophisticated rock album the band has created was a welcome surprise. Refreshingly, we see the band growing substantially since their 2012 debut.
Alveron is a complete album packed with precisely arranged music, captivating vocals and superb musicianship. When you realize that the stellar album was produced by the tremendously talented Flood, it makes perfect sense.
It’s not a concept album, but it is an offering that was put together fantastically well. The songs play off of each other and have an organic natural flow. Unlike its predecessor, the music is less fantasy-based, but rather a more mature look at relationships. McElligott shared “This album also has a theme to it, but it’s more grounded in reality and our own experiences. It’s almost as though you’ve woken up from that dreamy ethereal Suego Faults experience. This is much more like the real world, but still with notions of romanticism but just a little more realistic…” (Read the full interview here)
The production is top notch, at times spectacular and reminiscent of Flood’s earlier masterpieces, as I had pleasant flashback to earlier U2, Depeche Mode and Killers. The fact that Flood was interested in producing the album, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the potential of this talented band.
Like Suego Faults, this is an album – not a dozen songs haphazardly thrown together. Sadly, that’s becoming more difficult to find these days, but when I find myself enjoying one of these albums it’s thoroughly satisfying. We also get to hear how the sound has evolved as Wolf Gang has truly migrated from a Max McElligott solo project into a band where every member plays an integral role. As a result, the music takes a more prominent role, better guitars, bass and drums.
McElligott’s vocals are more diverse and broad them we’ve heard previously. Maybe a bit more restrained and true to his voice, too. The fantastic voice is a highlight, but I think I found even more enjoyment in the music. James Wood’s bass is much more prominent and Lasse Petersen’s drums are the cohesion that holds the music together. But, it was the guitar work of Gavin Slater that really captured my attention, as he offered creative riffs, clever accents and intricate highlights throughout.
My fear is that today’s radio landscape is a vast wasteland. Cute little ditties dot the airwaves and well-constructed albums like this are a rarity. For every Coldplay, there are dozens of weak synth driven drum machine guided pieces of crap and nowadays that’s what many listeners expect.
Highlights from the album include “Now I Can Feel It,” a soaring opus with a huge sound, and the urgent “Into the Fire” and hearty rocker “Last Bayou.” “Black River” was released as a single a few months ago and is another excellent track.
Two tracks jumped out to me as gems: “Underneath the Night” is a song with fantastic guitar work and is a bit reminiscent of early Edge. And, Woods’ bass was just terrific. “Ghost In My Life” was my personal favorite; a song that again features wonderfully creative guitar from Slater, and tasteful brass accents.
A few songs were just mediocre, “Back To Life” had excellent vocals and poignant lyrics but the brass just doesn’t work for me. And the title track was a bit of a letdown as I was really hoping for a finale that closed the album with a flourish. But, I’m being picky here; the majority of the album is fantastic and I strongly encourage you to invest 45 minutes for a creative rock ‘n roll escape.
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