Essential New Music: Wolf Eyes’ “I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces”


A couple of years ago, Wolf Eyes declared that they no longer play noise—they play “trip metal.” Noise was dead, they said, noting in several interviews that “Wolf Eyes are done fucking around.” On I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces, they sound more like an honest-to-goodness rock band than ever before. They even released the record on Jack White’s Third Man label.

One time, when talking of his band’s extensive catalog, Nate Young said you could divide Wolf Eyes releases into two categories: 1) research and development, and 2) results. The research and development was the hundreds of limited-run tapes, CD-Rs and seven-inches the band churned out over the years. The results were the more widely available albums like 2004’s Burned Mind or 2006’s Human Animal. That approach gave listeners a peek into the process, letting you hear how the group stumbled upon the ideas that would form the backbone of its proper albums.

In 2013, Young and longtime cohort John Olson brought in guitarist Jim Baljo, and since then, Wolf Eyes’ approach has been a lot more deliberate. The “research” releases have tapered off , which is the result of a band that no longer needs to fuck around to figure out what it wants to do. It’s easy to view Baljo’s contributions as being a big part of that given how prominent he is on the record. I Am A Problem still explores texture and discomfort like Wolf Eyes always has, but now they have riffs. Listen to “Enemy Ladder” and “Twister Nightfall,” and you finally get an idea of what they meant with all this “trip metal” business.

—Matt Sullivan