The Raised By Wolves – “Sadie Hawkins” (2013) review

September 7, 2017

The Raised By Wolves – “Sadie Hawkins” (2013) review

The Raised By Wolves – Sadie Hawkins (2013)
This DC-based group has been described in
the past as reminiscent of The Flaming Lips with a bit of The Police mixed in. But
when I turn on The Raised By Wolves’s debut album, I pick up on a greater
eclecticism. Any 90s pop rock comparison only begins to dive into the
experimentation that gives this release life.

By the first track you’re swimming through
the same captivating guitar licks of The Strokes mixed with the shoegaze-y haze
of Slowdive—minus the melancholy. The way their jagged guitars bounce amid a
wash of compressed vocals hits a sweet spot. Percussion weaves its way to the
forefront, driving the song just as much as the soft spoken harmonies. You’re
given a bygone angst amidst a seductive assortment of amplified vulnerability. “And when your life flashes before your eyes
/ I will wait in the peripheries.”
And then a drum kit? The buckling waves of
a synth? In ‘Stung (Song For Him)’ the mood shifts to a day spent on the beach;
overcast and few too many beers with some good friends. Too cold? Of course
not. You brought that cozy sweater from home. With every pulse, the wind hits
you a bit harder and you’re massaged into a gentle euphoria.
Move on to ‘Freddy Freaker’ and you reach
one of the album’s true gems. Showcased in their one and only music video, The Raised
By Wolves begin to dabble in more of a surf punk feel. The pop rock angst
remains, but not without a welcomed bit of disarray and static.
The emotional cohesion of this release continues
on and on, and should not go without praise. Scan over the group’s lyrics
unaccompanied and you’ll see a surprising originality to their words. But you
can’t undervalue a singer’s delivery. Dusty Durston, the main vocalist, gives
an impeccable performance.
While the variance in instrumentation and
dynamics suggest some genre-bending, ‘Hand-Me-Down Cardigans’ brings the
listener up close and personal. You coast atop feathery fingerpicking, muted
tambourine, grungy power chords, and a brief keyboard-driven interlude. “There lives a stranger inside of me that
you will never know / because a heavy hard heart is worth its weight in gold.”
But back down the rabbit hole into the
group’s synthpop meets singer/songwriter blend with my personal favorite,
‘Shangri-La-Di-Da.’ A wawaing guitar rings out alongside a xylophone. Again,
the vocals segue from softhearted ruminations to giddy choruses. For a moment,
reverberating conversations pile up on one another. The faint pounding of
acoustic guitar strings skate behind hopeful crooning. Your ears are jerked up
and down, over gravel pits, high above forests, through a cornfield of sweet
resonance—and you love every second of it.
So when I put on my copy of Sadie Hawkins,
it’s true. I get a whiff of The Flaming Lips, of The Police. But I also smell
some 10cc, some Meat Puppets, some Talking Heads, and some Scattered Trees.
It’s the sound that keeps on giving.
Unfortunately, and to dismay of many, The
Raised By Wolves has since disbanded, only putting out one other short
. After a couple of tours along the east coast they decided to call
it a day. At least the group left the world better than they found it.
 – Gabe Kahan
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