Written By Wolves – Secrets (Album Review)

WRITTEN BY WOLVES – Secrets
Released: November 8th, 2019

Line up:

Michael Murphy
Davie Wong
Bahador Borhani
Karl Woodhams
Oli Lyons

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Written By Wolves have put forth a powerful image of their band, just from the singles released alone. They’ve shown us the production quality of their music videos and their distinctive cinematic rock sound, and now we have the whole album to delve into. Let’s jump right on in there.

Kicking things off with a Daft Punk styled, auto tuned voice, ‘Start The Fire’ is that intro song that only goes for a minute or so. To be honest it doesn’t really set the scene in terms of what to expect. Yeah you get a feel for the mood and vibe but don’t expect any more vocals of that style. Not sure what they were going for there, but ‘Let It Burn’ is the opener we were hoping for. Sonically powerful with a bass line that will be so good live, we get a few screams and a hint of something a little heavier which is exciting.

With an absolute banging opening riff we have ‘Tell Me What You’re Running From’, and it’s this stuff that Written By Wolves do so well. It’s attention-grabbing and makes you hang out just waiting for more. Unfortunately, that’s about it though; the rest of the track is very vocally driven. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great vocals (warm tone, controlled and clearly has a great range), but I was just waiting for a breakdown that would really let the guitars shine and get a bit more gritty.

‘As Long As It Takes’ introduces a few more synthy sounds and honestly I kind of zoned out while listening, it didn’t catch my ear, but with ‘Better Luck Next Time’ we are talking prominent drums and a rapid fire chorus. There’s a bit of a build through the song but the reliance is on the vocals to raise the bar and create that excitement that a sweet guitar line should instead. It doesn’t work as well as it could. The album’s title track ‘Secrets’ has a really cool vibe and edgy vocals. But again, it’s a little unbalanced, there’s no give and take between the vocalist and the band. We do get a few screams in here though, and it’s these moments that make you realise WBW could actually do heavy pretty well. It’s like they’re playing around with it, not really committing or not convinced they could write a heavy track. And then we get to ‘Something To Save’ which might just be one of the catchiest songs on the album. Very easy to get into, a little anthemic and uplifting, and we have guitars! There’s also a nice soft and sweet section with a choir behind harmonising, and it’s here that you can almost visualise what this song would be like live.

‘Lucky Stars’ is a nice change of pace. It’s a slower, ballad style song and the guitars sliding up and down chords almost lends a country feel. You could totally slow dance to this song. Stepping away from slow dancing, ‘Demons’ is a slow burn. It builds and creates tension and when the beat drops, you find yourself wishing for more. Live, it might pack more of a punch, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark. The second breakdown however, is so much more satisfying. The guitars are given time to do their work, and we have aggressive vocals that lend that bit of oomph to the moment. We need more of this, they keep teasing us and not following through.

And then we head back down to softer territory with ‘Help Me Through The Night’. Sweeter vocals, a lovely piano melody and then some techno? Ok, moving on. ‘Careful What You Wish For’ is another one of those songs where they give us a taste of these great guitar melodies for what feels like 10 seconds. WE NEED MORE. And not in a bad way, but the last 20 seconds of the song is the best.

I’m gonna gloss over this next track real quick because ‘The Way Out’, I don’t know how this happened but it doesn’t belong on this album. There’s some robot inspired backing vocals, repetitive lyrics and a really basic drum line. Think Transformers. Yeah, it fell short here. And surprisingly, they ended with a slow song. I expected more from a closing song and ‘Forever & Always’ should’ve been somewhere in the middle, not the end. I can appreciate the song and the soundscapes they’ve created here, but it’s not a closing track.

It seems as if Written By Wolves have tried too hard and come up short. You can hear the talent and what the band could be capable of, but they’ve tried to do too much in 13 songs. Get rid of that techno stuff and give more playtime to the guitars because we kept hearing hints of what they could do. As for Michael Murphy’s vocals, he’s definitely got a voice on him, but I want to hear more screams and aggressiveness because the snippets that they have peppered through Secrets is the ear catching stuff.

Secrets is a mash up of styles. Live, they might get away with it, but on an album, it just doesn’t work. I’ll look forward to seeing this band pick a certain genre/style and give that their singular attention, because when they do, it’ll be something to hang on to.

Written by Wolves – Secrets tracklisting:

  1. Start The Fire
  2. Let It Burn
  3. Tell Me What You’re Running From
  4. As Long As It Takes
  5. Better Luck Next Time
  6. Secrets
  7. Something To Save
  8. Lucky Stars
  9. Demons
  10. Help Me Through The Night
  11. Be Careful What You Wish For
  12. The Way Out
  13. Forever & Always

Rating: 6/10
Secrets is Out November 8th, 2019. Pre-order here. 
Review by Ebony Story

 

 

 

 

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