It’s not a surprise that I would love Matt Berry’s brand new album Kill The Wolf, considering that I spent most of the Snuff Box review I ran recently talking about the bonus soundtrack CD that came with the American DVD. (And I’m still listening to that CD constantly, by the way.) But Kill The Wolf is even better — perhaps because it uses even MORE chords than Snuff Box did!
Seriously, though, Kill The Wolf is an outstanding record. As you might be able to tell from the sleeve art or the tracklisting, it’s a bit of a pastoral, autumnal sound. (Also: It should probably be noted for people who only know Matt Berry from Snuff Box, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace or The Mighty Boosh that this is not a comedy album.) Berry himself did almost all of the instrumentation, recording the bulk of his album in his own home studio. Likewise, he wrote the entire album except for “Wolf Quartet”, a brief instrumental by Cecilia Fage, who provides winds and vocals on the album, and provides an intro to the majestic centerpiece of the album, the nine-and-a-half-minute “Solstice”.
The album does have a couple of pretty rocking songs on there, like “The Signs”, but for the most part it’s pretty mellow, but in the best possible way. “Medicine”, the first single, is a catchy number that reminds me quite a lot of some of Frank Tovey’s later music — like “All That Is Mine”, or some of the poppier stuff he did with the Pyros. (And that’s intended as a high compliment; Tovey’s an underappreciated genius.) In fact — that’s a pretty good touchstone for most of the album, the later Tovey albums. The “Recommended if you like” thing is always a tricky beast that usually ends up being less descriptive than reviewers think it is, but if you insist on an RIYL, there you go. (And as an aside, Frank Tovey is someone Y should definitely L, as is Matt Berry.)
I hope that this album brings word of Matt Berry’s musical brilliance to these shores. Looking at the NME’s review, they seem to miss the point of it — their poor review boils down to “Well, it’s not very funny, innit?” To which I must agree… it’s not very funny. But neither is it supposed to be. Notes from the Underground isn’t exactly a laugh-riot either, but people seem to like that okay. Honestly, this is a wonderful album — one I can barely recommend enough, but, no, you’re not going to laugh. But that’s fine — you’re not supposed to! If you want a funny album, you’ll have to look elsewhere; on the other hand, if you want an exquisite album about time’s passage and a man’s struggles with morality, pick up Kill The Wolf.