If there’s one band currently plying their trade within the UK rock scene that you could never accuse of playing it safe, that band would be Turbowolf. Notoriously hard to label and known for dipping their toes into almost every genre imaginable, this eclectic quartet have continued to leave no stone left unturned on third LP ‘The Free Life’, however the results do end up being decidedly mixed as opposed to overwhelmingly successful.
Starting with the positives, when Turbowolf get it right, they get it really right. ‘Last Three Clues’ is a sleazy throwback that oozes swagger with every note, while impressively managing to maintain a dynamic, contemporary feel in amongst the waves of nostalgia. ‘Domino’ has some sterling interplay between each member of the band; every instrument coming together to form a storming slab of Bristolian rock that that could easily live on mainstream radio stations across the country. The guest slot from Royal Blood bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr is instantly recognisable too, and his fantastic contribution instantly lifts the track above almost everything else on the album.
This record certainly doesn’t lack for groove either, and while it does have an unfortunate tendency to go through long passages of monotony, there are blistering moments littered throughout that do their utmost to re-energise proceedings. Unfortunately however, the monotonous sections do overwhelm and stifle the more creative moments on multiple occasions, leading to a record that is plagued with inconsistency.
‘The Free Life’ also has more guest appearances than you could shake a stick at, yet with the exception of Kerr, not one of them really adds much in the way of creativity or quality. The old school vocals that act as the focal point of the album are layered over razor sharp riffing but also an assortment of other instruments that, rather than adding a sense of fun to tracks like opener ‘No No No’, simply serve to highlight the flaws of taking too many ideas from the musical toy box.
When this record attempts to blend less styles and instead focuses on one of the many interwoven strands in isolation, the quality increases tenfold. There are some brilliantly written songs on offer, closing lament ‘Concluder’ being the perfect example, but sadly there are also a whole host of tracks that throw way too much into the melting pot without the refinement that such experimentation would require. Turbowolf have well and truly swung for the fences here, but sadly the anticipated home run never quite comes to fruition.
‘The Free Life’ is out on March 9th via SO Recordings.