When I was little I really wanted to be a pirate. Like a proper pirate. Not like a Somali pirate, or a Chinese DVD pirate, but a proper pirate. The kind of pirate that is in that pirate film about pirates; if it wasn’t written by theme-park morons with a pirate Legolas fetish. You know the ones I mean: all alcoholism, shanties and kleptomania with no shits given; I even had the requisite torn stripy shirt. Sad to say, I never did become a pirate. However, I get the impression listening to Wolfe Sunday’s new record ‘Empty Bottles, Broken Bones’ that he likes pirates too and damnit, it sounds like he’s a much better pirate than I’ll ever be.
I talk rubbish of course, but ‘Empty Bottle, Broken Bones’ does have a decidedly Nautical theme throughout, consistent in both the excellent acoustic tracks and the rockier songs featured. The album is a pleasant listen, dark and brooding in places but predominantly a joyful experience. Songs like ‘Leave my Mark’, ‘Lith & Limb’ and ‘Dreams Forgotten’ indicate Wolfe Sunday’s adept and skilful understanding of melody and provide the catchy hooks on show. The rockier songs are also very good, though I can’t listen to ‘Dead Benedict’ without thinking of Bam Margera for some reason. But along with ‘Sick to the Bone’ and ‘Spare Change’ these songs bring real pace and drive to the record, and are really very enjoyable.
Wolf Sunday’s Laurence Crow provides the excellent music, taking care of the acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass duties himself, while Will Cummins’ crashing and flowing drums compliment the tracks perfectly. It’s all competently recorded and tight as you would expect, with witty downbeat lyrics which are wonderful pieces in their own right. Weighted and purposeful, the lines are deceptively simple punk stories which carry depth and message without crossing into pretention. I will confess that the vocals aren’t my cup of tea, and that I’m not overly keen on the Atlantic-American inflection of the punk vocal. However, I think that this is just merely a matter of personal taste, and I’m pretty sure that you won’t agree. Nevertheless I am delighted to say that the nuanced vocal takes nothing away from the delivery of the wonderful lyrics, so feel free to listen and make up your own mind!
‘Empty Bottle, Broken Bones’ is a bouncing and enjoyable record with a pleasant and memorable chorus’ throughout. The lower moments are executed nicely, and contrast pleasantly with the bigger moments perfectly. The songs all have the pull and sway of well executed pop songs, and the witty, intelligent lyrics ensure that it’s catchy without any of the saccharine bullshit that it often accompanies. Anarchic folk music has been in vogue recently, with a large number of popular folk-punks experiencing huge success. I’m happy to say that Wolfe Sunday’s nautical flavoured efforts sit very nicely alongside those of their peers. ‘Empty Bottle, Broken Bones’ is a really good little listen, and I fully recommend you give it a go. Now, where’s my rum?