As I mentioned previously, Shaun Frandsen of Sudden Death Over Time recommended Wild Nothing to me; unfortunately – and I do mean unfortunately – it took me some time to look into the band, which hails from Virginia, USA, and it has even taken me longer to find an opportunity to write about “Gemini” (25 May 2010 in the USA), the debut album. Be warned, this album is going to be very addictive to fans of late 80s, early 90s British indie music. Like their contemporaries The Pain of Being Pure at Heart, Wild Nothing deftly combines the subtleness of dream pop, the melodicness of shoegaze, and the intensity of noise pop; however, the band never commits to one genre. Furthermore, if you want to play the comparison game (and I will be), compared to many of their brethrens, there is a sense that Wild Nothing is more in tuned with how 80s musicians (like Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine) constructed their songs, while at the same time giving something fresh, distinct, and relevant.
The band is the brainchild of Jack Tatum (I admit ignorance on his career prior to starting Wild Nothing). Not committing to any one specific genre, “Gemini” draws musical references in places where they might not be expected. For instance, the opening track, “Live In Dreams,” has a rhythm much like the early, pre-Suede days of Britpop, while keeping a bleary shoegaze feel. The titular closing track gives into and lavishes in a beautiful post-punk guitar arrangement. Everything in between is as mesmerizing as these two tracks. But first a word of warning: do not criticize the production style. The production is a bit “rough,” but it works on a viscerally level. This is 2010, and a band cannot produce songs the same way as say Cocteau Twins would have two and a half-decades earlier. And, if Tatum wanted to meld homage to the past with visceral power, this gritty style of production does the trick perfectly and is a most welcomed step away from the glossy productions of this year.
It is this style of production that makes a track like “My Angel Lonely” pop out more than it would have otherwise. With vocals as bleary as the background sounds, it is the juxtaposition of this with crisp guitar arrangements and rhythm section in the forefront that makes the song alluring. Another track that just pops out is “Bored Games.” It has that classic Cure guitar sound, but is structured more along the lines of a popish-tempo My Bloody Valentine song (think of “Blown Away”). One other gem to pay close attention to is “Confirmation.” It is the most playful song of the album, with a touch of Manchester of the late 80s. This is one of those songs that I find it hard to put a finger on why it works – perhaps the wispy key sounds, the Marr-esque guitar arrangement, the bubbly bass line – all I know is that everything conspires to produce a song that is completely out of the box and extremely infectious.
Yes, I made a lot of comparisons, but not without reason. My hope is that if you lived with and loved the music of the bands that have been referenced, then you will be intrigued enough to take a good listen to Wild Nothing’s “Gemini.” But to do this debut justice, here are some things I can say without making direct comparisons. The vocals are sung with conviction and sincerity; even when muttered, there is a since of enticement just to the melody that makes you want to know the vocals. This is not rehash mania capitalizing on the sonic stylistics of the past. Sure, there are tons of references to the past, but Tatum is not content in just reproducing the sound of and the nostalgia for the past. This is the kind of new album that pushes the boundaries of old genres in new directions. In essence, taking an old medium, tampering with it, and using it to convey a new message. And with each listen, you realize a bit more just how brilliant Wild Nothing’s “Gemini” is.
1. Live In Dreams
2. Summer Holiday
5. O Lilac
6. Bored Games
8. My Angel Lonely
9. The Witching Hour
11. Our Composition Book
Keep up with Wild Nothing at their MySpace and Facebook.
Here is a live rendition of “Gemini” from the theyshotmusic YouTube Channel.
Here are few tour dates for my European friends.
Thursday, 18 November: Frankfurt, Deutschland (Ponyhof)
Friday, 19 November: Munchen, Deutschland (Atomic Café)
Saturday, 20 November: Bologna, Italia (Covo Club)
Sunday, 21 November: Varese, Italia (Twiggy)
Monday, 22 November: Roma, Italia (Circolo Degli Aristi)
Tuesday, 23 November: Cesena, Italia (Treessessanta)
Thursday, 25 November and Friday, 26 November: Primavera Club Festival, Barcelona, España.
Saturday, 26 November and Sunday, 28 November: Primavera Club Festival, Madrid, España.