olfmother would love you to compare them to 70s hard rock and to think of them as swinging, gnarly dudes. Singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale even looks authentic, if that means a Brundlefly mutation of Simon Amstell and Uncle Peter from The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, and it probably does. The rhythm section aren’t as convincing—two lunks who look like they should be participating in a moonlit beachside circle-jerk with Jack Johnson.
Wolfmother would love you to compare them to 70s hard rock, but wouldn’t like you to know too much about it. It would be then that you’d notice that they’re just riffing harmlessly on Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with a little bit of Deep Purple organ quack thrown in, all refracted through the White Stripes, who are surely the real reason that this band exists. But it’s a pale copy, a straight to video sequel. You’ll find nothing here to match Zep’s immaculate session musician studio pop or Black Sabbath’s stringent critique of the failure of the 60s project. You’ll find nothing to match The White Stripes either, especially on “Apple Tree” a sloppy, soggy carbon paper Stripes grab that even tries to jack Meg’s drum patterns, proving that it’s not as easy as it sounds. “Witchcraft” is scrawnier than it should be and the rhythm section can’t cook up enough heat to make it funky, which it needs to be. It’s closer to Chris Evans period Ocean Colour Scene than anything else, even with the added jazz flute.
“She’s a woman you know what I mean” whinnies Stockdale on, uh, “Woman.” And I know only too well what he means. I’ve heard about two hundred unwittingly sexist 70s hard rock tracks that tell me, and I’ve sat through The Datsuns ironic rehash “Lady” in 2002. Maybe it’s better that the sexism is unconvincing—like a game or a charade—but not when it’s as delibidinised as it is here. What’s lost is the creepiness and squirmy unsettling feeling that the best of the original stuff still provides and which is the only argument for it. It takes guts to be stupid—but it can’t be someone else’s stupid, especially someone from thirty years ago.
For a band from a country with a disproportionate amount of tuff rock there’s not much—any (?)—Australia present on this album. No “The Real Thing,” Coloured Balls, Rose Tattoo, or AC/DC to be found.
It’s not that Wolfmother are all that bad. It’s just that everything there is to say about them is best said by immediate reference to another band and Wolfmother always come up short in the comparison. It’s fun, but no one should ever settle for second best.
Reviewed by: Patrick McNally
Reviewed on: 2006-05-02