ALBUM REVIEW: Rosu Lup Is Anything Real

Rosu Lup Album Cover

Philly-based indie-folkers Rosu Lup’s band name probably doesn’t mean anything to you if you don’t speak Romanian. The origin story of their curious moniker goes like this: They got the idea for ‘Red Wolf’ from the lyrics of one of their favorite musicians. But ‘Red Wolf’ just wasn’t artsy-farsty enough for these guys. Instead, the band explains that they “…wanted the name to be a bit more unique so we threw it into Google Translator and picked different languages.  We thought Rosu Lup sounded best, which is the Romanian translation.  We happen to be pretty big fans of wolves.” As evidenced by Is Anything Real, Rosu Lup is an ambient folk band partial to cinematic orchestral arrangements and tendency towards genre-experimentation. Problem is, the orchestral arrangements that accompany the folk song core of the songs create almost no tension. Instead the horns, string instruments, and guitars tend to mingle together in a shallow puddle at the pace of a gentle breeze. The songs themselves are virtually hookless. The vocal melodies stagnate and traffic in cringe-worthy lines like, “Like in a dream/I’m on the border/Between wake and sleep/Between wake and sleep.” There are other problems: sometimes the percussion doesn’t feel synched with the rest of the tracks, sometimes the mix sounds off, and at other times drastic tempo changes act like speed bumps interrupting the momentum of songs. Everything — from the squealing guitar crescendos accented by muted megaphone vocals on the title track to the sparse ambient folk tracks like “The Astronaut”, to the  glitchy, sample-happy “Threads” — is whitewashed by over-production and too much reverb. It sounds like every track’s been run through every pitch and tempo correction software available. As a result, there is little to no dissonance or friction or any hint of the human fallibility that gives art grit and urgency. It may be that in the fullness of time this band has something to offer the world, but in the meantime Is Anything Real sounds like a band still struggling to realize its identity. — DILLON ALEXANDER