Birchwood are a band with a really interesting sound right now. Perhaps it’s the way in which Lone Wolf in particular has been crafted, but something about it feels hauntingly honest, and all at once familiar and fresh.
To lay it out, the song emerges with a simple guitar riff, an organic and live sounding drum line, followed shortly afterwards by a slightly distant, reverb soaked leading vocal. On paper, it sounds as if this is an indie-pop or rock offering that leans in the more mellow direction of the spectrum. When you listen though, the melody has something instantly hypnotic about it. Certain inflections within have this emotional, grunge-esque aura about them – this four note progression within each line of the verse is so simple, yet so captivating.
Then of course you get the lyrics, which aren’t all that easy to pick up on as the recording has such a dreamlike overall wash to it – you get lost in the general vibe before you get hung up on the story line. It’s a beautiful ambiance, the setup doesn’t quite express how effective the result is. To experience the song in the hazy basement of a bar somewhere on a tired yet hyped Friday night would be perfect. There’s a classic or even vintage feel to the ambiance, and when the vocal part begins it feels like the missing track from some huge album of the nineties. When you do finally catch those lyrics, the lines intrigue, they appear to explore uncommon territory, and that adds a lot of appeal.
As things progress, the song’s hook is unusually mellow, especially when compared to the verses. This creative freedom, this refusal to submit, makes for the most interesting songs, in my opinion. Hence the way this feature began. Birchwood are doing whatever it was that certain bands were doing a decade or two ago that made them really seem fresh and carefree – unaffected by the industry or the rules or the expectations.
Lone Wolf is a stunning song. Simply put, this change from the melancholy verses to the somewhat joyful chorus section is compelling, baffling, and strangely satisfying. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the EP – the likes of which you can look out for any any day now.
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