Timeless yet endlessly playable
Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy blend together beautifully on Superwolves, creating an album fans will love for decades to come. Sweeney’s timeless guitar mixed with Prince’s signature vocals is captured in 14 stripped-down tracks featuring little else but the occasional snare or piano. The two manage to keep the record fresh by diversifying their lyrical motifs and exploring different styles in each song, swaying between the worlds of rock and folk with the most natural of ease.
Superwolves hosts a range of songs that can just as easily invoke a toe tap as it can pull on the heartstrings, demonstrating the pair’s masterful understanding of emotion. The lyrical compositions in songs like “Good to My Girls” feature a romantic guitar as Prince sings, “because I’m good to my girls/ I take them to the movies/ I put food in their bellies,” inciting a homey warmth through a folky vocal delivery.
The motif of selfless love and care is common throughout the album, likely playing on the idea of a “wolf pack mentality” needed to survive the harsh realities of life, but this mentality doesn’t have to be unloving. This comes to light again in “Shorty’s Ark” where Prince states, “I want to save the animals before it starts to rain/ I wanna sing them two by two/ I want their kids to know their names,” and beautifully continues the idea that in creating a life one loves they must provide for those they love in return. Using biblical reference and notions of God allows the two to bring their lessons to life, such as in “You Can Regret What You Have Done” when they discuss the idea of pain and regret “will soak through each time you bleed” moving through life, continuing on how to heal from past trauma.
On the surface, these lessons and ideas may be misunderstood, but Sweeney’s guitar makes things sound like a bedtime story, infusing a sense of familiarity into every word spoken throughout the album. His guitar playing definitely steals the show throughout the record, with songs like “Make Worry For Me” explosively starting things out with the bass leading into an epic guitar solo, something also showcased in “Hall of Death.” These rock-heavy tracks definitely stole the show, and even when slowed down, bring a rush of excitement difficult to find in other music.
Overall, Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy created an album that certainly won’t disappoint fans. With all the simple folk-rock elements and their distinct creative implementation, Superwolves will likely stand outmatched by contemporaries. The album truly demonstrates that timeless sound and lessons can still combine to create new, endlessly playable music.