Vulfpeck, the funkiest band you’ve never heard of, is back at it again having just released two singles off their upcoming album “Mr. Finish Line,” out Nov. 7.
So soon after their last LP, “The Beautiful Game,” which was released in October 2016, Vulfpeck gave a sneak preview of two songs off “Mr. Finish Line,” available for pre-order on the band’s website.
The first single, “Birds of a Feather, We Rock Together,” was uploaded to YouTube in mid-September and featured regular collaborator, Antwaun Stanley, as the lead singer. Stanley has also provided vocals to a few of the Michigan-based funk band’s biggest hits, “Wait for the Moment” and “Funky Duck.” Vulfpeck diehards will be very excited to hear Stanley’s soulful voice again, overlaying the calming accompaniment and backing vocals from saxophonist Joey Dosik and band member Theo Katzman.
The song is more or less a bird-oriented metaphor for enduring rough patches in relationships and still being intimate. With lyrics like “Birds of a feather, we rock together/And if we got a problem, we talk together/So let’s head down South, escape the bad weather,” the analogy is pretty clear.
Stanley echoes his love for a significant other in the song by serenading, “The sun came through my treetop/And it shone so bright it lit up everything/Shone a light of something that was so true/Suddenly I knew I had to have you.” While the band has certainly delved into soul music in the past, “Birds of a Feather…” may be the most soulful of them all. This soul transition is something Vulfpeck hit out of the park every time and they absolutely do so again here.
While “Birds of a Feather” was a fantastic song in its own right, the better of the two singles in my opinion is “Baby I Don’t Know Oh Oh.” Originally written by Ryan Lerman as a song called “Do With You,” this single features another of Vulfpeck’s former collaborators in singer Charles Jones to provide vocals and play piano. Jones had previously sung in one of my favorite Vulfpeck songs, “Game Winner,” delivering a hypnotic chorus to sing along to.
Uploaded to YouTube earlier this week, “Baby I Don’t Know” opens with a recognizable and catchy piano riff that sounds like one you’d find in “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John. The riff is complemented by a stellar bass line, which really gives the song that Vulfpeck vibe, and a subtle beat on drums.
Together, the instruments crescendo from verse into a powerful chorus, in which Jones passionately bellows, “Baby I don’t know/What I’m gonna do with you/We found your little note/Shoulda had a talk with you/’Cause you’ve been on my mind/I know I was out of line/Telling Dad I’m giving up on you/I don’t want to.”
The song is a mesmerizing, emotionally-rich piece that culminates in Jones breaking into falsetto screams in an outro repeating the line “Baby I don’t know oh oh” until the end of a truly well-produced single.
Ultimately, these two singles bode very well for Vulfpeck’s LP to be released next month. With several other recurrent collaborators reportedly working with the funk band on the rest of the album, I will be eagerly awaiting Nov. 7 for the full release of “Mr. Finish Line,” adding to an already expansive and impressive catalog of Vulfpeck music.