Teen Wolf itself is goofy but with some surprisingly poignant metaphors. Wolf-Face is the same, straddling its own bizarro stance between cartoonish monsters, high school, adolescence, melodrama and real, honest emotion. I didn’t expect to like Still A Son of a Bitch in 2013, but I did – quite a bit, really. The band is built on a gimmick: that the 1985 movie referenced above is an unauthorized biography of Wolf-Face lead vocalist Michael J. Wolf. Music-wise, it’s Fest-style singalong punk with gruff vocals, self-deprecation, and delicious irony.
It’s also the kind of thing you listen to and think: “That was fun. I bet they can’t repeat it.” So now that Stay Golden is out, is it a dreaded, uninspired sequel or something that goes in surprising new directions?
First let’s talk music. Because, really, I’m not here to rationalize on this subject matter -- and I’m not sure anybody should. It’s goofy, for sure, but the music is why it works in the first place. Still Golden seems more mid-tempo and slowed down to me. The first record flies past with shout-along choruses seemingly from start to finish. This time the band is drawing things out a hair. Or maybe the title track just makes that first impression and it clouds by perspective. Without doing the math, I’d say that about three-quarters of this record has the party energy of the debut, but it diversifies the tempo throughout.
“With or Without Boof” is a midtempo number rich in melodrama. There are big hooks, balanced by an emotive cry. That’s the basic metaphor you hear through the whole thing. “Howl Alone” has some nice bridge work, “Born on a Blood Moon” offers a touch of balladry, “The Wolf” is more introspective…and “Dog Whistle” and “No Need To Thank Me” are more upbeat and built around the hook-plus-chorus melody. Occasional back-up vocals and harmonies pull it all together.
If you like melodrama and over-the-top metaphors like “You make me feel human,” “There’s no place in heaven / for a monster,” and “Keep your chin up little pup/ these aren’t just paws I gave you/ they’re vicious claws and fangs” this is your new jam. It’s raw, honest punk with a cheesy theme seamlessly integrated into some catchy songs.
Besides, it’s no sillier than The Misfits if you stop to actually think about it.
7.4 / 10
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