Unpopular Advent 2014 - Day 20: The Wolfhounds - 'Middle Aged Freaks'
One of the most pointless exercises is to draw up lists of ‘all time favourite’ anythings. Such things necessarily drift with the tides of our lives, and this is what makes them so elusive. If pressed however I would admit that The Wolfhounds would be on such a list of musical artists more often that not. The singles and albums they recorded, from the piercing ‘Cut The Cake’ in 1986 to the glowering ‘Attitude’ of 1990 were universally magnificent and criminally ignored and underrated.
Their return in 2005 was a great delight, and their set at the 2006 ‘Still Doing It For Fun’ nights at the ICA remains burnt on my retinas as a spectacular explosion of breathtaking poise and noise. There have been singular releases in the intervening years since then of course, and it was these that formed the backbone of their first album in 24 years. ‘Middle Aged Freaks’ bristled with the spiky intelligence of The Wolfhounds' previous incarnation and sounded in no way like a group settling happily into their armchairs. Instead there was a sense of a group who had matured, yes, but who remained infuriated by the society in which they found themselves. As unsettled and uncomfortable in Cameron’s UK as they had been in Thatcher’s, The Wolfhounds were determined not to be quiet about it. Like Seaford Mods (in fact I think it was The Wolfhounds’ Dave Callahan* who first tipped me to Seaford Mods back in April 2013) or Flies On You, The Wolfhounds had the air of a literate irritant in the side of mainstream culture - not that mainstream culture noticed, or cared.
Me, I cared a great deal. From the simultaneously euphoric and splenetic ‘Cheer Up’ (itself a feature in last year’s advent series) through the sky scraping ‘Anthem’ and the gloriously sparse ’The Slide’ to the hypnotic, motorik ’The Ten Commandments of Public Life’, ‘Middle Aged Freaks’ sounded both like the return of a prodigal son and the re-establishment of an alternative order into the universe. Stunning.