It seems an eternity since Sean Grant & The Wolfgang dropped their 2018 debut album (The Shadows Are Lengthening) and although a stop gap EP eased the tension somewhat their sophomore full length has been a long time coming. Certainly worth the wait 33 is an album that grapples with life’s biggest questions and presents them in nine easily digestible songs.
‘Bodies Of Christ’ was 33’s lead single and it makes an equally impressive opener. There’s a sense of urgency about this album and the riff which introduces ‘Bodies Of Christ’ doesn’t mess around. Scything like a stray power cable it’s an electrified riff that shocks the album into life, and in the best possible fashion. With just the right amount of distortion on the guitars Sean Grant & Co encase the listener within a wall of sound and weave a dark, hypnotic spell. Those with a penchant for the darker side of rock (think Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen or Mew) will find a spiritual home here and will revel in Sean’s slightly sinister soundscapes.
Like many artists Sean Grant suffered during the lockdown and after some serious soul searching and desert wandering he’s entered a period of rebirth and that informs every note of 33. Lyrically Sean bravely bares his soul on tracks like ‘To Drink Is To Die’ and that adds an emotional depth which is cradled in a disconcerting sound and it’s a pairing that makes for surprisingly easy bedfellows. Pressing hard on the distortion pedal ‘Die Beautiful’ soaks its guitar strings in lighter fluid then sets them aflame to deliver the kind of riff Thurston Moore would kill for and it’s easy to see why the band have made fans of influencers such as Steve Lamacq and John Kennedy.
Meditating on such lofty ideas as yogic philosophies and quantum physics means listening to 33 is something of an intellectual exercise yet, for all its high-mindedness, Sean Grant never loses sight of important stuff like melody which renders this album as one long earworm. After its frenetic openings 33 takes a more measured, nuanced path on its second half as the title track goes off on a mystical bent while album closer ‘Become The Observer (Let Go)’ conjures a host of discombobulating imagery. With a quasi religious feel it’s a track that evokes mist shrouded cloisters and hooded, chanting monks and, like all good art, ‘Become The Observer’ poses more questions that it answers.
The lockdown has been especially hard for musicians (and music fans in general) but the upshot is it has birthed some great albums and 33 stands as one of the best.
- Reviewed by Peter Dennis.
- 33 is released via Shrink Your World Records on 21st May 2021
- Bodies Of Christ
- Murder Scene
- To Drink Is To Die
- Die Beautiful
- Night Crawling
- Light Closes Eyes
- Cardboard Dreams
- Become The Observer (Let Go)