The last album that Wild Nothing – from my home state of VA (Virginia) – brought out (also known as Gemini) was a good piece of work according to many magazines; though it was slightly overrated. THIS album however, is much more convincing; you’ll find yourself much more ready and willing to suspend belief. There is noticeable effort put into the song writing and the singing has greatly improved. The beats are catchier and the atmosphere of the whole album profits from a higher quality of recording and better production.
The first song which really leaves an impression in the album was ‘Through The Glass’, which resembles the comfortable and restful tones of the Kings Of Convenience with a slightly less “unplugged” vibe to it and in strange opposition to the anguishing ominous intro. The apogee of the song is strong for this style of music, it has a riveting percussion track which accentuates off-beats, requires more concentration from its listeners. It is fair to say that all songs are equally well composed and lead into the next but those that stand out are: ‘Nocturne’ which leaves its listener time to sink in to the ambiance whilst its guitars swell and sway in the bridge, ‘Paradise’ which has a catchy leitmotiv and a very sepia toned melancholic memory sounding bridge right in the middle of the song, ‘Blue Dress’, especially with its first riff, and “’Rheya’, which makes a very suitable conclusion to the record.
The band is evidently strongly inspired by eighties shoegaze, new wave bands like The Cure, and this is especially transparent in this second album though a modern interpretation of it. Some songs even transit into the nineties with a more recognisable Britpop sound like in ‘The Chain Won’t Break’.
When it comes to the metaphorical side of the whole piece I find Nocturne to be an extremely fitting title. I can easily imagine myself as Michael in the Lost Boys cruising on my motorcycle down the winding roads by the sea side; after all one should be allowed to dream. The sounds created with the multiple extra instrument/percussion tracks coupled with the good use of reverb in the production make the soundscape and resulting mental pictures much more luxuriant and layered. The album remains true to itself all throughout, but introduces more modern musical notions and riffs as the songs deploy.
On the side of the lyrics I would start by saying that they are mostly difficult to hear. Jokes aside, I think it is safe to say that Tatum did not leave any of his self too obvious for the eyes to behold in these lyrics. Many of the songs discuss some issue around love whether Tatum cannot reciprocate it as in ‘Shadow’ or wants it reeeeaally bad like in ‘Nocturne’ or ‘Only Heather’, but nothing too deep on the whole. Either way, his singing still makes up for the elusive quietness of most of its lyrical content. It appears, in fact, that Tatum concentrated on how well the melody and rhythm of the vocals fit in to the instrumental side of the album, rather than on bolder lyrics a sacrifice which makes the product no less worthy of praise, though. What Gemini had in straightforwardness, honesty and clarity is made up for with a symbiotic singing and lyricism that blends in with the album demarking itself from Gemini in that sense.
All in all, though this is not generally what I expressly seek out as music, tending towards bolder musical statements and more challenging listening, I am quite agreeably surprised by this album and I am sure you will find the same. It stands out by the quality of the harmony between all forms of vocals and instrumentation, the credibility of its atmosphere, the honesty to itself and its senior album, and the overall good feeling which it produces. Easily a soundtrack to a teen romance or – who knows – maybe even an adult one.
Released on 7th August 2012 by Bella Union Records