Lupine Howl – 125 EP

Lupine Howl
125 EP

Lupine Howl make no bones about their association with the always impressive British band Spiritualized, but don’t let that sway you completely into thinking that this band, formed by three of Spiritualized’s members, is merely a sound-alike off-shoot. Lupine Howl is something all their own, something that they want to sound different, frankly. So while there may be hints of Spiritualized’s throw-back psychedelic sound – hell, this album culls the best moments from the past four decades at least – this sure isn’t Spiritualized.
In fact, I get the sense that Lupine Howl have a statement to make with this release. They didn’t want to do a lengthy full-length chock full of filler, so the songs are brief and to the point, rocking without lag or redundancy. Clearly, the band is still heavily influenced by their predecessors, taking several dozen pages from British bands going back as far as the 60’s and 70’s, but that’s why this is so good. It’s a modern approach to the sound that worked so well for bands in the past, all wrapped up in attitude and the songwriting ability you’d come to expect.
The title track reminds me of everything that I used to love about Blur. Catchy, just slightly odd-ball British rock with a modern, indie edge, and the song really does rock, with vocals that have that perfect Suede-style attitude and flair. But they take a different approach on “Tired,” opting for a languid, almost Floyd-esque ballad, and while it doesn’t work as well, it’s still a tight song. “Swell” lays on layers of keyboards and effects for a swirling, textured approach that probably most closely resembles a Spiritualized song, while “Mexican Cantina” is a kind of groovy, soundtrack-style instrumental. “Voodoo Raygun” closes with epic proportions, a darker, moodier yet powerful track with a serious sense of groove.
The US version of this album is a bit longer than the British EP, and it hardly deserves to be called an EP with the addition of their first two singles, oddly just thrown into the rest of the songs instead of tacked onto the end. “Vaporizer,” the band’s first single, deserved to be the song that rocketed them into fame in London, as it’s catchy Doors meets Spencer Davis meets Blur sound is sarcastic and bitter yet rocking as all get out. And “Bronzage,” their second single, is chock full of crunchy guitars, Sonic Youth style distortion, and a serious sense of funk-style rock that reminds me, at times, of the Soup Dragons. Along with “125,” these are the best tracks on this release.
I’ll be honest with you: I like Lupine Howl’s style of psychedelia better than that of Spiritualized. There’s something about these songs that feel fresh and motivated, inspired by a sense of fun, and that comes through from the start. You get the feeling that these guys are having fun again, something that Spiritualized apparently stopped being through relentless touring and recording. So give ’em a break. Let them make new music. Because this is damn good, and it deserves to be heard.