Skip to content

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Superwolves (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Superwolves (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 43:32 minutes | 436 MB | Genre: Rpck
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Domino Recording Co

Where once was Superwolf, now roam Superwolves, the new album and demon spawn of Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, released physically on June 18th. The songs that make up Superwolves, the duo’s second album and first since 2005’s Superwolf, go boldly into undreamed-of places, and go deep, as Matt and Bonny take all the musics they know to make songs that penetrate. In classic Garcia-Hunter style, Sweeney and the ‘Prince’ first work separately, finding a path to each other in their solitary imaginings. Bonnie lyric sets delivered to Matt spark Sweeney’s guitar brain; chords and a melody are shaped, recorded fast and loose and sent back to the Prince, then the two parties meet up to sing, stitch, strengthen and finally perform them together in front of a small unsuspecting audience. Then new sets of lyrics are sent, animated and played in a high wire style until the shared songs and experiences are ready to commit to record. This is just the beginning of their fusion process, as words imply vocalizations to counter and support, and guitar lines suggest harmonic fields to subtly push into. In this process, a new creature grows out of the old one. In this name of this partnership, the guitar shares an open and fluid space with the vocals, the voices sing with the guitars-every moment in the life of Superwolves is an extravaganza, guided only by its need.

It’s been 16 years since Matt Sweeney and Will Oldham aka Bonnie ‘Prince” Billy teamed up for an album’s worth of material, and, now that our indie rock heroes are firmly ensconced in their middle age, one would assume that Superwolves would somehow reflect some epiphanic segue into elder-statesmenhood. However, what we actually have are a couple of dudes in their early ‘50s, straining against their instinctive desire to make a dad-rock album. Between Sweeney’s love of top-tier riffs and Oldham’s renowned gift for American Gothic songcraft, these two each could easily provide the necessary ingredients for an indie-adjacent classic rock record, and many of the melodies and lyrics point toward that possibility, but structurally, Sweeney’s spare guitar work and Oldham’s literary-minded lyrical distance doesn’t let it happen. Most of the numbers—whether the The Gosdin Brothers’ “There Must Be a Someone” (one of only two tracks not written by Sweeney and Oldham) or the sing-songy (but terribly sad) “You Can Regret What You Have Done”—are spare and relatively simple, putting the lyrics at the fore. That said, Superwolves does manage to get a bit crunchy, thanks to the presence of Mdou Moctar’s band on three songs near the end of the album’s first half. “Hall of Death” is a dizzyingly intense and emotionally effective number, spinning out Rush-in-West-Africa vibes boosted by Moctar”s guitar work. When the record veers toward splitting the difference, it’s both enticing and frustrating. “God is Waiting” aches for a couple of chunky bar chords and some lush arrangements, but the closest we get are some briefly multitracked harmonies in an otherwise sparse and slightly abstract arrangement; likewise, album closer “Not Fooling” feels like an epic held in second gear, with both Sweeney and Oldham worried that there’s some sort of inherent bombast that could escape from the song’s restrained and introspective grasp. So there’s definitely still a classic, dad-rock album in here somewhere for these two; we may just have to wait until they get into their 60s until we can hear it. – Jason Ferguson


1. Make Worry for Me (03:58)
2. Good to My Girls (02:41)
3. God Is Waiting (03:07)
4. Hall of Death (03:21)
5. Shorty’s Ark (03:29)
6. I Am a Youth Inclined to Ramble (06:07)
7. My Popsicle (02:48)
8. Watch What Happens (02:55)
9. Resist the Urge (02:34)
10. There Must Be a Someone (02:41)
11. My Blue Suit (02:36)
12. My Body Is My Own (02:36)
13. You Can Regret What You Have Done (02:05)
14. Not Fooling (02:34)


Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.

%d bloggers like this: