It’s becoming increasingly difficult to evaluate bands like Wolf Girl without falling back on the rest of the scene around them. Indie-pop and indie-punk is still in the midst of a massive boom, and while it’s produced some great, incredibly personal music, it would be a lie to say that every acts stands out without blurring into each other. It’s led to a point where there’s not exactly a reticence to explore these bands further, but a feeling that a greater level of critical scrutiny is a necessity to suss out where the best of the best actually lies.
And that ultimately brings about the need to work out where on the quality spectrum to place Wolf Girl, a band who have greatly impressed in the writing department on their past few singles, but instrumentally have struggled to elevate themselves beyond the spiky, offbeat indie-punk framework. It’s not like Every Now & Then has changed that either, as while there’s a distinct sparkle of personality that manages to even break through the genre building blocks, it’s simply not enough. That’s not to say this is bad either; the classic pop sway and melody is profoundly noticeable amid the rambunctious energy or Dream Partner and Toast For Dinner, and there’s a bit more gristle in the guitar work to move away from anything too saccharine. Beyond that though, Wolf Girl’s general sound is disappointingly anonymous, with the barbed guitar and basslines that could be lifted from virtually any other band in their circles, and some surprisingly messy production at points that throws volume levels off balance, or makes a track like Get You feel unavoidably turgid and lacking in definition.
Really, the redeeming factor of Every Now & Then is the writing, the frequent ace-in-the-hole for indie-punk bands, and here it’s really no different, in what serves as a cathartic, explorative process for vocalist Healey to examine the world around them, and how their identification as a queer individual shapes everything around them. That can be something as mundane as a noncommittal relationship stalling out on Moody, or a lack of care given to a partner on Maths In The Real World with its clever use of the concept of rehearsal to retain knowledge, but it’s much deeper on tracks like Samson, looking at society’s invalidation of them for not adhering to traditional masculine norms, or Breaking News, a simple cry for understanding how hard it is for LGBTQ+ people to vocalise their worries and feelings in a world that’s generally ignorant towards them. There’s a scrappiness and weight behind it that makes it all connect so much more, and wrapping it up with Bad Weather’s look at the general anxieties faced on a daily basis, it couldn’t feel like it’s coming from a more real place. The lack of a mask to hide behind is something that Wolf Girl portray particularly well, and in crafting sentiments that have both populist and personal resonance, there’s a lot to appreciate and like there.
If only it was executed with a bit more individualism, Wolf Girl would really earmark themselves as a potent force within indie-punk, certainly one with more potency and lyrical dexterity at their disposal. And yet, they’re held back from reaching that point by an execution that feels rather dime-a-dozen, all things considered, something that’s especially disappointing from a band who are capable of so much more. It could definitely be a lot worse though, and the fact that there is at least something that stands out makes Wolf Girl more worthy of keeping tabs than so many of their peers, but only by building and evolving with that ultimately come to fruition.
For fans of: Happy Accidents, The Spook School, Personal Best
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Every Now & Then’ by Wolf Girl is released on 19th October on Everything Sucks Music.