“As Good As It Gets” by Wolf Rd
I hear a lot of duets as a music critic, but when they produce the kind of white-hot harmony that we find in Wolf Rd’s new single “As Good As It Gets,” the sources they originate from aren’t so quick to fall off of my radar. Case in point, Wolf Rd has been a Chicago-area band that I haven’t been able to get enough of lately, and in their latest release, I think they establish themselves as one of the more adept pop-punk outfits in or outside of their legendary music scene at the moment.
“As Good As It Gets” is straight acoustic and executed with surgical precision on the parts of the players, and the first element that I noticed about its master mix was the fullness of the guitars. Despite how loud and proud the vocals are in this single, the strings sound just as prominent and integral to our understanding of the emotions in these verses. The lyrics wouldn’t have the presence they do without the backdrop they’ve been afforded in this track, and it’s obvious that Wolf Rd were thinking about this long before they ever got into the studio to record it.
The words here are pure poetry and supremely brooding around every twist and turn created by the beat, and it’s impossible to ignore how unforgivingly self-aware they are in the first half of the song. Wolf Rd know how to be scathing and introspective at the same time – Joy Division without the synths, anyone? – and in a punk culture that has fostered a lot of singularities, theirs is a multidimensionality that could return the genre to its roots. I don’t get the impression they care much for componentry that doesn’t advance the narrative at hand, and their efficiency in this song backs that up.
Some really amazing things are happening in the Chicago music scene once more this summer, and on the rock side of the city’s underground, Wolf Rd is an act that I would keep near the top of my must-watch list as we get into the 2021’s second act. They’ve got a dedication to the music that I would love to see spread like wildfire outside of the upper-Midwest, and provided their profile continues to grow on the strength of songs like “As Good As It Gets,” they could start seeing the same kind of ascent that fellow Illinoisans Fall Out Boy did almost two decades ago.