Behind Door number 1 we have Hunter & Wolfe. The Brooklyn duo craft true-grit American rock’n’roll persuaded by the heart and soul. Singer Michael Maffei lets loose his lyrics straight from the depths of his rotgut.
Behind Door number 2 we have their second album, Days And Works, released last week and available for download on their Bandcamp. Maffei and Sundeep Kapur put this whole thing together: writing, performance, recording and production. The songs are triumphant and expertly sculpted.
“La La La” ambles in with a joyous romp of twittering piano keys and thick down-strummed acoustic guitar. The second, somber, “What Has Changed?” builds over time on a throbbing guitar drone with Maffei falling in and out until it finally erupts.
The louder songs remind me faintly of the brash and direct style of The Walkmen. The stuffy room feeling, lazy washed out guitars against driving drums, and an internal personal breakthrough just around the corner. “Woe Is You” is a jagged cutting guitar declaration with a slow-simmering attack and Maffei rolling over the crescendos. On “Please” some dripping wet guitar rinses off a slow-burning flame.
Each song is commanded by Maffei’s voice and the different emotions it brings. He shows great restraint, each note carrying a light quiver, but strong and with full intent. On the acoustically sparse “All My Might” his voice soars between the beautifully interlocked and carefully plucked notes.
Maffei shakes his heart loose from his sleeve on the wallowing “Even Odds.” The acoustic number has singing emotional response. “Punching all the tickets / Moving point to point / Til it all seems pointless,” he sings from the echo chamber of existential defeat.
Days And Works is a perfectly compact album. Over its nine songs is the rock’n’roll of the young man. It sounds classic and instantly lived-in; a record that could ride parallel with your life for a moment and stay with you always. Really, there is nothing wrong with it.