Album Review: Turbowolf – “The Free Life”
Modern life is rubbish. The illusion of a free society means everyone lives an entitled existence, racking up debt, caring little for others, and destroying the planet as they go. Luckily, Bristol psych-rockers Turbowolf can see through the illusion and are able to guide us on the righteous path with their third album The Free Life.
The West Country quartet have been honing their unique sound for a decade now, and on this latest record it’s typically difficult to place them anywhere other than in a niche of their own. Presumably a new live show opener, No No No is a classic calm-before-the-storm effort, as swathes of Andy Ghosh’s fuzzy guitar work become layered with electronica and Chris Georgiadis’ cultish vocal stylings.
Another friends and family record, Turbowolf, as they have in the past, rope in a few guests across the album to mix things up, notably Joe Talbot of fellow Bristolians Idles (a band that the ‘Wolf have been banging on about since before anyone else had heard of them) on Capital X and Sebastien Grainger of Death From Above on Cheap Magic. The latter in particular works brilliantly, a scuzzy, oddly organic yet robotic disco stomper, reminiscent of DFA but also of the head spinning tangents that Turbowolf dive down with ease.
Don’t worry though, if you were looking for a moshpit stomper akin to Seven Severed Heads from the band’s debut album, you’ve well and truly got one in Very Bad, where bassist Lianna Lee Davies and drummer Blake Davies seem to be challenging each other to a rhythm race throughout. The hippy clap-along interlude of Halfsecret before the bludgeoning and Elton John-endorsed Domino (featuring Mike Kerr of Royal Blood fame) is a perfect seek and destroy combination that gives the record a great storybook feel, and proves that Turbowolf are capable of producing tracks equally at home in clubs, at festivals, in your home or soundtracking goal of the month on Match Of The Day. In fact, there are parts on this latest effort which are arguably Turbowolf’s most stripped back and commercial yet, but just as you get comfortable, the magic carpet is ripped out from under you, sending you tumbling down another spiral of delirious delight.
Take the title track for example; a hypnotic electronic thud gives way to harmonic-filtered guitar, before a pummelling groove gradually builds to a rapid fire assault during which Georgiadis nails some of his most high-pitched vocals to date. It’s a beautifully put together song, a six minute epic that exposes every asset in Turbowolf’s arsenal whilst somehow producing the catchiest chorus of their career, and it’s this intrigue that keeps the record rattling along at a ferocious pace.
If you’re yet to give Turbowolf a listen, then now is your chance; this is the product of a decade of madness from the Bristol troupe, equal parts psychedelic, grin-inducing fun, punk as fuck and yet soulfully moving, especially when longtime collaborator Chantal Brown of voodoo metallers Vodun pops up. One thing’s for sure, a back-to-basics approach has produced the band’s most fascinating record to date.
There may be more twists and turns this time around, but Turbowolf have mapped out a brilliant trip through a crazily helter-skelter world. There's still a lot of fun to be had here, but some serious messages peak through which make perfect sense amongst all the chaos. Whether you're after an instant punk pop hit, or a meander down a more psychedelic path, Turbowolf have got you well and truly covered.