I’m seeing Wild Nothing perform three times this year. I saw them recently at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, will be seeing them this Friday, May 20 at the Regent in L.A., and finally at Primavera Sound in Barcelona. I was also able to catch their free show with Roses at the Echoplex last year. So, it’s been established that I’m a fan!
When tracks like “Reichpop and “TV Queen” were leaked preceding the highly anticipated release of Life of Pause in February, it was clear that Wild Nothing would be staying true to their ’80’s inspired indie-rock sound, just more composed and evolved. Reichpop is a nod to minimalist composer Steve Reich, as it begins with a marimba counterpoint which carries through the entire syncopated song. One of my favorite moments in the album in the moment where Reichpop drops to just bass, marimba, and wailing synth around minute 4.
The album cover suggests a keyhole look into a ’70’s inspired, semi-surreal home, as the Wild Nothing website currently features “To Know You” with Jack Tatum walking endlessly through said room.
While the intro “Reichpop” is beautifully composed, I feel that the album doesn’t really get interesting again until track 6, with “Alien.”
“Alien” is a song you can seriously groove to, featuring synth swells, singing, “You make me feel like an Alien, You made me feel like a million,” and swelling into a head-bang worthy musical chorus. What I love about Tatum’s writing is that it’s instrumental driven, and not so focused on filling everything with lyrics and vocals—something I much appreciate as an instrumentalist musician. “To Know You” creeps in after with distorted sirens in octaves and a driving 1 beat in the bass line that continues throughout the song.
The octave theme continues, but in the piano this time as “Adore” begins. I love the melody in this song, as well as the ’70’s dreaminess of the chorus, followed by unexpected triplets that give the song a little more depth.
“TV Queen” is probably the most popular song on the album, with its catchy instrumentation. It’s most reminiscent of Wild Nothing’s pervious albums.
“Whenever I” is a soulful track, beginning with a romantic sax opening. The chorus is a little unoriginal, but the disco influence shines through in the “wawa” guitar and smooth bass line.
Life of Pause closes with “Love Underneath My Thumb,” which is a little anti-climactic, until the ascending synth arpeggios come in and the track grows stronger.
It’s clear that Wild Nothing is evolving, and incorporating additional influences, like minimalism and soul. It’s not as dreamy as Nocturne or as catchy as Gemini, but it’s a clear evolution of Jack Tatum’s work, that leaves me wondering what direction they’ll go toward next.
Listen to the full album here: