Music Reviews


Brand New Pants

Crunchy Frog

An elegant and debauched departure from current indie tropes, Danish duo Wolfkin reminds me of Lord Byron trying his luck at being a pop star. The music is lush and dramatically orchestrated, but with a black blood filled heart of darkness and dissipation, bringing to mind the likes of Pulp circa This is Hardcore, Scott Walker, David Bowie around Station To Station time, and a little Mark Almond.

The sound Wolfkin crafts on Brand New Pants is a very adult, growing-old-disgracefully kind of sound. It’s quite a bit fucking more sophisticated than your typical four-dudes-with-a-guitar and a Pavement album nonsense. This is altogether more dangerous and evocative music. Dramatic strings, fearlessly retro keyboards, and synth either smolder at or dance drunken circles around one another. The rhythm section is the “quiet one” in this combo, holding everything together while two, three, maybe four cigarette-stained, disenchanted male and (occasionally) female voices sing lines back and forth to one another, harmonizing, slurring, shaking heads at the memory of one too many late nights.

The metropolitan tech-torch of “The Great Divide” is an early favorite, electro-weirdo flourishes and vamps run smack into harps, a string section and driving guitars rushing toward a dark assignation down crowded city streets, like orange neon reflected from the keys of a grand piano. “Coyoacan” starts off moody and syncopated, but quickly up-shifts into a spry jaunt through early rockabilly territory but with space noises added, and with a focus on the maximum thrust of the hips and carefully shaking the quaff into the eyes.

Best of all, when the whole album finally fucking coalesces into total poised-pop PERFECTION à la Jarvis Cocker sweating it out through “This Is Hardcore,” is the noir anthem “Subversatine.” It’s one long, gradually unspooling verse set against dark, shaken-not-stirred baroque pop, tense Scott Walker strings, vibes, atmospheric guitar, and elegantly frugging drums, full of tense imagery about your friends turning into vampires and fluttering off, uttered with this sophisticated, fully masculine disaffection that is way too absent nowadays. “Seventh Heaven” is a nifty slice of insomniatic suave, John Barry-homage overlaid by trip-hop beats, and a Serge Gainsbourg-style monologue that slurs and collapses before being resurrected as a mysterious, slinky samba on heroin casualty.

I’m picturing tuxedos stained with blood and various powders and drinks, with just enough dramatic chanson flamboyance and bratty sense of rock-kicks-fun to keep it from getting all too heady and existential. Did I mention I love the press picture of the two at a piano, one sitting wide-eyed, the other stretched across it, Fabulous Baker Boys-style, carelessly smoking a cigarette?

Crunchy Frog:

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