Something Unusual, the second track on Suego Faults and one of its best, sounds like Elvis Costello in his Armed Forces days: glossy with descending keyboards, Max McElligotts vocal mimicking that strained, higher-pitched tone of the four-decade man. A subtle synth plods along, letting McElligott warble over it; as the vocal stops, keyboard melodies replace them and flourish. Thats just the first verse, too.
Suego Faults was produced by Dave Fridmann, who has performed the same role for Flaming Lips and more relevantly here, MGMT. And in the pre-chorus and the chorus, you can see why Fridmann and Wolf Gang would want to be involved with each other: Its resounding pop, played out through a long, drawn gasp of a vocal line and shimmering chords.
The shimmering chords continue for most of the record. Wolf Gang has toured with Miike Snow and Florence and the Machine; when you combine those names with the other work of their producer, you arrive near their sound. While Suego Faults could never be a Florence album, its choruses verge on her territory with their claim to being anthems, Stay and Defend being a case in point. A number of songs hold to the principle that a sing-along melody makes for a successful refrain. The drums on Midnight Dancers thump in a way that makes you know the song will be catchy.
Wolf Gangs first album offers some great pop; its easy to see why people think McElligott will make a successful transition from British to American audiences. There are some nice lyrical images (see Lions in Cages: “In the city where Im from there are lovers til the dawn”), and there are shiny, catchy pianos underneath warm synths. Everything is also polished to a sheen. While not the boldest record of recent years, Suego Faults does sparkle on its own and offers little to no respite. Isn’t that what you want in a listen?
Essential Tracks: “Something Unusual”, “Midnight Dancers”, “Lions in Cages”