Wild Nothing grows up with “Life of Pause”

life of pauseBy Samuel Stevens

@SamuelJ_Stevens

Wild Nothing is a Virginia-based indie rock/dream pop band headed by singer-songwriter Jack Tatum, now with three studio albums and two EPs. Their latest album, “Life of Pause,” delivers the synth and jangly guitar sound of their past two albums, 2010’s “Gemini” and 2012’s “Nocturne,” while experimenting with their style and sound.

Their last EP, “Empty Estate,” changed up the more subdued, washed out style of the previous albums. “Life of Pause” is another evolution in Wild Nothing’s style. The album delivers on a number of fronts, easily surpassing both of their previous albums.

The production values on the record are a major improvement over the previous albums and EPs, especially the vocal mixing. “Gemini” and “Nocturne” featured hazy, almost incomprehensible lyrics in the vein of acts like Beach House, DIIV and Craft Spells. “Pause” takes its production and offers clear vocals without drowning the music out of the mix.

Tatum’s excellent songwriting comes through and compliments the dreamy instrumentation. The lyrics are much deeper on this record than on the previous Wild Nothing albums. Some of the tracks on “Gemini” and “Nocturne” had rather simple, almost pop lyrics. “Pause” shows that Wild Nothing has much more to offer.

“Pause” starts off with the solid, synth heavy “Reichpop,” keeping in style with the band’s smooth, dreamy songs, while also showing off the improved production values. “Reichpop” has a very New Wave feel, echoing classic artist New Order.

The album fades into another retro sounding track, “Lady Blue,” which has simple songwriting, but a very upbeat, interesting melody.

“A Woman’s Wisdom” shows off Tatum’s strong songwriting with a love ballad: “Help me just to see it/The writing on the wall…/I don’t believe in heaven, but baby you can be my church.” The track also features another distorted guitar and synth backing. This is where the album’s overall theme emerges.

“Japanese Alice” and the titular track, “Life of Pause,” build on the album’s theme of lost or unrequited love. “Alice” is the weakest song of the album. While a solid track, it does not offer anything too different than the others.

The next track, “Alien,” improves and shows off Wild Nothing’s strong songwriting, paired with another great synth hook. “To Know You,” “Adore” and “TV Queen” come afterward, another set of solid synth and guitar songs with the lost love theme of the rest of album.

The standout track on the album is “Whenever.” The crisp production and combination of distorted guitar and synthesizers delivers an excellent, almost jazz-like sound. The final track “Love Underneath My Thumb” had an interesting chord progression, but was not as inspiring as the other songs.

“Pause” is like Wild Nothing’s previous work in that it delivers a solid indie alternative sound. This album, however, represents a huge evolution in the project’s sound. While “Nocturne” was excellent and had memorable tracks, “Pause” beats it.

While the improved production made the record a much more enjoyable experience, the album was also an artistic improvement. “Life of Pause’s” overall theme of melancholy and lost love came through in the songwriting and music. Gemini and Nocturne did not have as clear a theme, and it shows how far the band has come since 2010.

The Flyer gives Wild Nothing’s “Life of Pause” an 8/10.

 

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