- 30 Apr 21
Americana icons saddle up for one more gunfight.
It’s a massive shame Matt Sweeney and Will Oldham chose not to title this sequel to 2005’s Superwolf something in the vein of “2uperwolf”. Instead they’ve opted for Superwolves – which, as Oldham recently told GQ, implied the duo had “gone forth and multiplied.”
Actually they’ve carried on as if the previous 16 years haven’t happened. From the backwoods timbre of their interwoven voices, to the music’s mad rush from wonder to melancholy, Superwolves feels less like a long-sought sequel to a classic record than the inevitable continuation of what went before. That isn’t a criticism. The world is moving far too quickly and all the old certainties are being swept away. Amidst this tumult, how encouraging to know that there are some things on which we can still rely.
Oldham you will of course recognise as the lo-fi artist’s lo-fi artist. He’s also one of the most terrifying performers I have ever witnessed in the flesh. The look he shot an over enthusiastic fanboy-heckler when playing Dublin in the early 2000s is scorched into my soul.
Sweeney is less well known in this part of the world. In America, though, he is a sainted figure, having collaborated with everyone’s from Run The Jewels’ El–P to Billy Corgan on his Zwan project.
And as was the case on the original Superwolf, he and Oldham are perfect foils. They display a surprisingly firm grasp of the fundamentals of the pop song on the playful ‘My Popsicle’, where their rasping voices are juxtaposed with guitars that twang almost merrily.
Elsewhere, Oldham conjures with his gothic troubadour Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy persona on ‘My Blue Suit’. There’s a treat for Irish listeners, too – ‘I Am A Youth That’s Inclined To Ramble’ takes an old trad song (previously performed by Paul Brady and Cara Dillon among others) and upholsters it with a descending riff once removed from ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. Like everything else here it is haunting and sublime.