As in most great romances, one may find the poet intertwining with tragedy, and tragedy rather than romance, had a greater roll in helping create Montreal’s “Hardcore with Heart” quintet by the name of Watch for Wolves. What WFW really captures with their debut 5-song EP Count it All in Joy is the eternal dance between romance and tragedy.
From the opening chords of “Count it All in Joy,” there is a sense of comfort in the slightly overdriven guitar tones, and use of familiar notes that have been used before, but never been played out. Just as comfort comes, you are awakened by urging vocals, courtesy of Matthew Savage, who starts the provocation of emotions deep in the pit of your stomach. His ability to choose excellent screaming cadences sets the tone for this journey through sadness. The first track, “Picking Sides,” comes flying out of the gate, and before the track comes to a slowing down and inevitable crashing into its successor, Watch for Wolves gives you a chance to reflect on your less successful romances. The honest line composed of simplicity so genuine it just has to be considered poetry: “If this is what your love is all about/ then you can count me/ you can count me out.”
“Mall Kids” starts of with a trudging riff that is heavy with emotion. You can feel the weight meant to be appropriated to this track and onto your shoulders, as Adam, one of the two guitarists for this contingent, comes in with sweet and soft clean vocals that ensure that this sense of confusion and conflict of direction which your heart is currently feeling is Watch for Wolves’ ultimate intention. You are quickly reminded of this with the line that feels like a spear aimed for the heart of today’s society: “Everyone is right/ there is no wrong/ nothing could be further from the truth.” In that perspective of society, it is only right to find yourself in concurrence with the track’s closing statement that depression does certainly live.
Two tracks into this journey, you have seen what makes this band. You have listened to songs which have come close to your heart. Understanding every exasperated word being delivered isn’t the band’s primary importance; what is most important of any band partaking in the flying of the ‘post-hardcore punk’ flag is that, you feel it. Like a blunt shank being thrust into your stomach, such is the modus operandi of Watch for Wolves— they make you feel everything.
Two pieces on this EP which spoke to me were the obvious “Jacob,” and the sweetly textured “In This Home.” “Jacob” has a precedence which is captured by a song starting with soft and welcoming vocals, the seasoned lyrics cut through to the center of you. It allows space for an anxious growing of emotions which is so fitting as Adam starts off with the lyrics: “When we were young/ we had it all…” which flourish into an emotional onslaught of realizations, of selling oneself short, and perhaps the feeling of being the shell of your former self and needing to set a reminder. “In This Home” is a soundtrack for a mental journey, introducing itself to you with the calming beauty of swelling guitar, then slapping your cheek as a reminder of your mortal ability to feel, and your human ability to make mistakes. This song has a warmth to it that can only be compared to driving around in the summer with the windows down, and no matter how fast you drive, the moment maintains its incandescence.
Watch for Wolves has done a great job of creating a set of songs which all relate to each other, and represent this unit justly. The band’s ability to take the familiar and place it into their mathematic formula; their work of drawing you in with what you think you know, building it up, and then letting it crumble down on you in a soft, humbling and honest brute force. Include moments of lush and honey sweetened clean vocals and you are left with the feeling that we would not be better off without Watch for Wolves, and until this Montreal based quintet comes out with more recorded material, we will have no choice but to stay sad.
Written by Joseph Francis Espinosa