Five well-dressed young men are assembled on the Barfly's narrow stage, each sporting a trendy haircut and stylish blazer. Many such bands have played in this tiny-but-renowned Camden venue, but Wolf Gang's ambitious blend of multiple styles lifts them above the host of UK acts who have passed through its doors.
Sharing genes with a number of current acts – from Mystery Jets to Local Natives to Phoenix – and with a penchant for dramatic choruses, Max McElligott's band are an unorthodox proposition, and their show yields a suitably wide array of different results: the hard-edged indie-rock of "Dancing With The Devil" contrasting with the dance-pop strains of closer "Lions In Cages" and the Britpop guitar lines of "Back To Back".
With an impressive endeavour the group attempt to unite a series of seemingly disparate sounds, filling each song with an enthusiasm which is often feigned, but seldom this genuine. McElligott's on-mic patter, while sparse, is full of humanising tales – struggles with the album's release date, life as a Camden resident – which create a warm, easy rapport with the crowd as his band plough through their wide-ranging set.
Yet the problem from which Wolf Gang suffer isn't so much one of treading musical ground as breaking it. Although accomplished explorers, the band have not yet stuck their flag in any part of the musical roadmap and made it their own. Each style is more than competently played, but many feel disconnected to one another, and the gig never really finds its voice.
Of course, criticising Wolf Gang's search for their own sound would be churlish, the band having only released their debut album on the same day as tonight's show, but there is a certain frustration in hearing a patently talented act not quite take the leap. It's certainly not for a lack of effort: McElligott and his indefatigable band ensure that every minute of their set hums with reckless energy.
There are certain moments, too, which provide an insight into how good Wolf Gang can be. "Something Unusual" is a brilliant, alchemical mix of dreampop melodies and potent indie grooves, while single "The King And All His Men" points to an impressive ability to craft a catchy riff. Tonight's show offers both food for thought and a tantalising taster of what is to come.Reuse content