Words by Max Harley Taylor
Bristol band Turbowolf return with their third album The Free Life, where the band feel fully at home with their signature, amalgamous sound which blends seemingly every genre of guitar music into one psychedelic, gratifying and beefy auditory stew. The bands 2015 sophomore album Two Hands was a delirious, desert trip, which established many of their staple sounds; driving guitars which hum with tight fuzzy immediacy and shimmer with hazy soloing, heavy, stomping grooves, vast, cosmic synth parts, and infectious choruses which feel equal parts punk, pop and world music thanks to complimentary backing vocals which accompany Chris Georgiadias’ righteous, nasal croons.
The band continue to expand on this sound on The Free Life, with opening track ‘No No No’ instantly encapsulating their quintessential layering of crunchy riffs and hooky, weirdo pop harmony. Another stand out track, ‘Cheap Magic’, swaggers with Latin groove, helped by textural percussion, while guest vocalist Sebastian Grainger (Death From Above) delivers one of the album’s most delicious vocal lines, resulting in a surprisingly progressive 3 minute treat. Other guest vocals, including fellow Bristolian Joe Talbot’s (Idles) raw, semi-spoken outro to ‘Capital X’, and the return of Chantel Brown (Vodun) with her glorious, elevating gospel part in ‘Very Bad’ further add to The Free Life’s sonic variety.
More expansive moments, like ‘Halfsecret’ and the aptly titled closer ‘Concluder’, allow for some welcome space and reflection in this dense and intense album with lush sci-fi synths and acoustic sparseness. The album’s title track is also its longest, and extravagantly epitomises the band’s sound perfectly; from its urgent, tempo-racing intro build, and sing-a-long hooks, to its abrasive later-half freak-out and even it’s bizarre, hallucinatory collage of a music video, this song drips with the band’s contagious eccentricity. Even the album’s slightly more by-the-numbers tracks like ‘Blackhole’ surge with energy and offer solid, head-bobbing riffage.
Turbowolf’s The Free Life is an electric, eclectic, heavy and harmonious ride through a surreal, luscious world. Like the soundtrack to some cult 70’s sci-fi film where monolithic metal snakes tare through the neon landscape of a planet that looks oddly like our own, whilst purple skinned Amazonian’s do battle against the giant levitating heads of their ominous totalitarian overlords. On The Free Life, Turbowolf successfully harness their abundant influences and further refine them into an instantaneous, exhilarating yet satisfyingly deep sound of their own which bristles with energy, all while balancing accessibility and experimentation.
Give it a listen!
The Free Life is available now on SO Recordings.
Catch them at Trinity Arts Centre, Bristol with Puppy and Big Spring on Thursday the 15th of March. Review coming soon…