Lupine Howl - "The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of Lupine Howl"
(Beggar's Banquet Records 2001, BBQCD 219X)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
Back in AI #15 I reviewed Lupine Howl's 125 EP, mentioning they had their debut full-length CD on the way, and I wondered whether they would follow their funky pop directions or their space/psych inclinations with a full-length disc to work with. Well, sadly, for fans of the later type of music, they seem to following their pop leanings.
The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of Lupine Howl is filled with lots of funky, psychedelic grooves and buzzing and swooshing space effects, but underlying it all is a distinct pop sensibility. The effects aren't really integral to the music; they are more like decorations.
The band, however, comprised of ex-members of Spiritualized, is tight one. But the songs are not always as interesting as they should be. There are some decent tracks, such as the melodically psychedelic ballad Sniff the Glue, and the very spacey Lonely Roads. The longer tracks, like Carnival and Sometimes, clocking in around the 8-10 minute length are enjoyable enough, I guess, but somehow, just don't ever really catch fire. The problem lies in the fact that the band likes to play it too safe. Just when you think they're going to push themselves over the edge, they jump back into another chorus, leaving you with the feeling of a missed opportunity.
The final disappointment for me came at the end of the album with the song, The Jam That Ate Itself. "Ah," I thought hopefully, "They've worked out all their pop inclinations and are going to end things off with a monster psychedelic jam session." Sadly, if there ever was a jam, it obviously really did eat itself, because the song is only about 2 ½ minutes long and isn't even really a jam at that (unless of course they were referring to the stuff you put on toast-the lyrics give us no clue).
The version I have is apparently a special edition limited to 2000 copies, and comes packaged in a box, rather than a jewel case. It contains an inexplicably elaborate liner insert that has little to no extra information other than the song lyrics, but is chock full of lurid images of bondage and S & M, and even more explicit written descriptions that read like ads from the adult classifieds. What it all means, is anyone's guess.
For more information you can visit the official Lupine Howl web site at: http://www.lupinehowl.com/.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald