Album Review – hunter & wolfe: “Late Then Never”

Five: that is the number of songs that are on the Late Then Never EP. Five: that is the number of times I thought about downloading the Soundcloud app just to listen to this album everyday in my car. Five: that is all of the songs I needed to hear for me to fall in love with hunter & wolfe. Imagine if Death Cab for Cutie and Radiohead had a baby. Wouldn’t it be the most infectious, tear-jerking, enlightening, and musically genius baby? Well, that is hunter & wolfe, and they truly put their instrumental talents, songwriting abilities, and album-making genes to work, showcasing them effortlessly in this EP.

“All the Vultures” is quite an introduction to the album, because it has the elements of a ballad, but also has enough instrumental strength and consistency to be recognized as a lofty alternative composition. There is no sense of insecurity with this song, let alone the band, of whom seem to have identified exactly what their sound is going to be — and let me tell you, it is a good one. Lyrically, this song takes the cake. It is emotional and powerful, the perfectly layered vocals only enhancing the story being told. Weezer is just one band that I have found always does this well, but in my opinion — and in accordance to this stunning song — hunter & wolfe could begin to rival them.

Although “All the Vultures” is its own a masterpiece, “Dear Annie” hits a home run. The gentle acoustic guitar opening sets up for a mellow song, and while it is mellow, it is far from dull. The intertwining sounds of a cello and viola highlight Sundeep Kapur’s skilled guitar playing, and Michael Maffei’s smooth vocals to the point of giving each and every listener chills. Halfway through the song I had goosebumps up and down my arms, the personal connection evident in Maffei’s voice, which immediately struck a chord in me. I felt the honesty in the lyrics and the purity in the way he sang this specific song. The presumably real, but possibly fictional “Annie” has gone, but the singer desperately wants her to listen to the words that he is trying to say. Thus, creating this idea that a letter is being read out loud alongside music, of which truly lends itself to the artistry of this song.

There is a progression in the last track on Late Then Never that is so memorable and so exemplary that I want everyone I know to hear it. The simple piano that is working hand in hand with the vocals on “All Too Much” soon becomes much more with the addition of an electric guitar that Kapur is shredding. Toward the latter end of the track, it feels as though it would fit perfectly in a heist scene of a movie, a running scene, or some scene where there is a sudden shift in the overall dynamic. I adore it. Stylistically, it closes out the album on a phenomenal note; for it reveals the depth of the five beautifully simplistic, yet connotatively deep-rooted songs.