American Wolf – Myriad

written by: April 20, 2013
Album-art-for-Myriad-by-American-Wolf Release Date: January 22, 2013


American Wolf can best be described as an experimental ambient electronic indie dream rock group. This title reflects the confusingly diverse array of sounds the five members create and call music.

Myriad may be so titled because it brings a myriad of thoughts and feelings to the listener. American Wolf has been described as “intellectual,” which sounds suspiciously like a pompous way of describing something that’s experimental simply for the sake of being experimental. In any event, first impressions, no matter how shallow, are not turning out great for American Wolf.

“Dark Matter” enters in with, well, darkness. Electronic tones, fuzzy vocals, heavy bass lines, and incessant guitar solos come across as checkered and jaded, with a dash of trying-too-hard.

American Wolf is going for a space theme, trying to appeal to the listener’s sense of insignificance when reflecting on the immensity of the universe, but creating grandiose tracks is not the most effective way to nurse an exploratory atmosphere.

The  chewy center of the album delivers a little bit of sunshine in the darkness, though.  “Skin Tight” and “Open Me” are pleasant tracks that would make for a good distraction on a rainy day.  The former is a peaceful, soulful lullaby that would fit seamlessly in a movie soundtrack, while the latter has a repetitive electone rhythm that could be featured on a “myriad” (see what I did there?) of video game soundtracks.

The whole album seems like a soundtrack for another art medium, rather than an atmospheric record constructed for a small indie following. It crafts mental landscapes, rather than telling the listener anything. It has its place somewhere, but it doesn’t stand on its own.

“The Secret to Passing Through” reveals just how monotonous and uncreative the vocals really are. They seem to blend together into a bland protein shake made of the same patterns, chords, and tones that any “mom-on-the-go” drinks every morning. If this track reveals the lack of creativity, though, “Letting You Out” reveals just how inventive American Wolf is with its instruments.

This is where the group succeeds in connecting to the listener. The diversity of sounds underneath are phenomenal and showcase the talent of the band. At least there’s an overall theme. Many artists struggle with finding the balance of keeping a core sound, while keeping the whole album interesting. American Wolf may be young in its career, but it shows promise.

Of course, no review could be complete without mentioning the album’s namesake track, “Myriad.” It follows the same pattern that most of the tracks use. At this point, it’s tired.

Myriad is a stewpot, to say the least. While becoming tired quickly, the album is full of different instrumental elements that entice the listener with their hooks. Yet, they lose their charm once they hit the four minute point.

It’s a flawed album, but a worthwhile soundtrack in a way. To be fair, there are a “myriad” (I can’t stop myself) of soundtracks that register with people on a deep emotional level, but we must consider the purpose of the tool. A soundtrack supports a main idea: a movie, a video game, etc. An album ought to stand by itself. American Wolf shows promise in its apparent knowledge of music theory and instrumental practice, but needs to reconsider the way it gets its sound to the listener.

American Wolf- Myriad tracklist:

  1. “Dark Matter”
  2. “Mahrz”
  3. “Skin Tight”
  4. “Open Me”
  5. “Mother”
  6. “The Secret to Passing Through”
  7. “Phenomenon”
  8. “Letting You Out”
  9. “Myriad”