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Wolfmother: Cosmic Egg (Modular/Interscope) 

Anachronistic acts make easy targets. They're not innovators; they're acolytes, interested in re-invoking the halcyon days of a particular moment just for revelry's sake. In the case of Wolfmother, that moment mostly begins with the early proto-metal of Led Zeppelin and ends around the late-'70s Bon Scott era of AC/DC. They don't make any of this new; they just do it really, really well.

This uncanny retro-hard-rock proficiency continues on the band's sophomore album, Cosmic Egg, which re-imagines the band as a four-piece in which everyone is a new hire except for lead singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale. In producer Alan Moulder's hands, the band sounds slicker (while still appropriately gritty and heavy) and more ruminative.

I dig the groovier, psychedelic side to the band in this new incarnation, as evidenced by spectral rock ballads like "Violence of the Sun" and "In the Morning." It's a record more steeped in romanticism than the band's eponymous debut, which had a lot of metal-schlock (unicorns, witches, ancient monoliths). Whereas before, Stockdale was all urgency, desperate to get back on the love train, he's now introspective and bewildered, singing, "I believe that love is gonna last forever / And it's all within my mind" on "Far Away." This album is raw in its skepticism, even as it can't contain its metaphysical curiosity.

Don't worry, rockers. If you don't feel like getting your consciousness expanded, tracks like "Pilgrim" and "Sundial" will just cause your eardrums to blister. And check out "White Feather"; it arrived a little too late, but it's the perfect summer rock song.

More by Sean Bottai

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