Wolfmother have had quite the musical existence since they exploded into action four years ago.
Rewind to 2005 when the band were still a trio and their self-titled début was the word on everyone's lips. It did fantastically in their Australian homeland, respectably well in America and surprisingly, even our little island of the United Kingdom managed to hype the record into the stratosphere. Then came 2006, the year of the Woman single and a boat-load of remixes, followed by an uncomfortably quiet 2007.
It wasn't until 2008 that the Wolfmother name re-emerged into the music world but this time, it wasn't for the good. Internal troubles and talks of a hiatus were thrown around and it was early August when the news came that both drummer Myles Heskett and keyboardist/bassist Chris Ross had quit the band due to 'irreconcilable differences'. Instead of crumbling into a forgotten memory, frontman Andrew Stockdale continued under the moniker and come January of 2009, announced the new Wolfmother incarnation, this time in quartet form.
So, as winter robs the daylight from our evenings and the biting cold forces our heating bills into the hundreds, we're offered the second rising of Wolfmother, the popular rock band that could. How is it? Sadly, mediocre at best.
The début sounded like a hard-rock band on autopilot but it was just fresh enough to hold some lasting appeal and kitsch enjoyment value for the few months we could bear it. Cosmic Egg sheds those tolerable aspects and instead spends eighty entire minutes (out of the nine editions released, we somehow managed to end up with sixteen track deluxe edition) rolling around in it's own ridiculous faux-rock playpen. You only have to look as far as track two - New Moon Rising to catch a glimpse at the bottom of the barrel and it really isn't looking pretty down here. Clichéd chorus lines, repetitive guitar riffs and overbearing drums jumble atop one another sounding both catchy and wholly derivative all at once.
Looking deeper through the cracks and we're presented with further uninspired hooks (album title track Cosmic Egg is just a joke), frustrating vocals (he really does sound like Ozzy Osbourne on helium, doesn't he?), masturbatory guitar breaks, heavier but simpler drums and everything else that you'd expect from a rock band attempting at a 'darker' follow-up record. It's a shame it's less Dark Knight and more Matrix Reloaded. It's one thing to try and appeal to the mainstream whilst keeping your edge but to try and jump straight into the stadiums because you think your music can handle it is never a good idea.
The record isn't entirely without its merits though and admittedly there are a few moments scattered few and far between that show a band genuinely having some fun with their new mates. Introductory number California Queen is probably the LP's strongest moment, racing down a rock-highway at top speed with it's top down, shades-on. It spirals into a few momentary stoner-rock breaks here and there and whilst it's all been done before (and better if we're honest), there's still some joy to be had with the brief blast of rock that the song offers. There's a similar rush of fleeting entertainment in the White Stripes-esque experimentalism of Back Round but unfortunately, not much else.
Cosmic Egg was never going to be a 2009 end of year list contender but what we're most disappointed with is the lack of passion from the frontman and his new members. Something we though the new line-up would revitalise.
You can possess a voice that soars through the highest octaves known to man and have the volume cranked permanently to eleven but when you take the enthusiasm and fire away, you're left with nothing more than the hollow shell of a band who almost seem to have lost their way completely.
We may pick these guys up in a few album time to see where they are then (hopefully far from here) but as we move ever closer to a so-far promising looking 2010, Cosmic Egg is already beginning to feel like a hazy, distant memory.