When The Republic of Wolves launched into fame last year, riding on the back of the leaked tracks from their debut EP, His Old Branches, fans of bands like Brand New, Neutral Milk Hotel and Bright Eyes rejoiced. The Republic of Wolves managed to merge the best of their influences into an extremely concise and well-crafted seven track effort. When it was announced earlier this year that the band would be releasing their first full-length album after a short tour, anticipation for the band’s record skyrocketed, making them perhaps the most popular new band of the year. The first single, “Oarsman,” was released with a music video a few months ago and the general reception was extremely high, as the track took the reverb-drenched vocals, harsh screams and intricately weaved guitar lines that made the EP so popular. The album quickly became my most anticipated release of 2010.
The band announced the pre-order for the full-length, entitled Varuna, early last week and included the album version of a track that they made an acoustic video for the day before for those that pre-ordered the album. After a short three day wait for the band to email me the track, I dropped everything and immediately listened. The track, titled “Woolen Blankets,” benefits from its electric version exponentially. The full version allows them to use their trademark effect of heavily reverbed vocals from lead singer/guitarist Mason Maggio. It also features a sweet and subtle lead riff from guitarist/backing vocalist Christian Van Deurs, who interestingly plays the riff on a banjo in the acoustic video.
The song is most similar to “The Clouds” from the EP in structure. It features a rather soft verse and chorus up until the bridge where the song picks up in speed and volume. The bridge begins with a solo from Deurs and launches into a huge finale with Maggio’s higher vocals, also similar to “The Clouds.” An interesting side note is that “The Clouds” is the only track on the EP that features guitarist/vocalist Gregg Andrew Dellarocca on lead vocals and writing, which leads me to believe that Varuna will be a much more collaborative effort than the EP, with the band writing the album collectively. This is further supported by “Oarsman,” which featured both Maggio and Dellarocca singing on the track and ended with screaming vocals from keyboardist Billy Duprey.
While “Woolen Blankets” may not be as heavy as “Oarsman,” it is received just as highly as it shows the vast range of sound that the band has at their disposal. With Varuna’s release coming in less than a month and with two tracks of 13 released, the hype for the album is only increasing and if the remaining songs are anywhere near as good as these two, it is surely a lock in my top 5 list for the end of the year.