Up until now, Wallows has been a fun indie band to listen to, that offered some quirky takes on the genre. Their latest release however feels several steps beyond any of their previous material, as it wraps their pop in a lot of great experimental production. With a few predictable directions to start from, this record is consistently surprising and if nothing else a fun experience to listen to.
After a steady stream of songs over the last few years, you can hear the sense of maturity coming through on this release from Wallows. There’s so many fine details in individual instrument tones and the production as a whole, that a song like “Only Friend” can sound rich and wondrous by simply chugging along. This kind of detailing is one of the album’s strong suits, and is used as a sharp dynamic tool throughout each song. While you may be familiar with the bits and pieces that make up a song like “Treacherous Doctor” or “Are You Bored Yet,” the way Wallows adds, subtracts and absolutely blows out certain parts really makes the difference.
There’s still a sense of exploration and groovy rhythms in the writing however, though Wallows definitely make a point of using comfort as a basis to try something out there. As you listen to the silky bass of “Sidelines,” each riff around it is caked in unique cutting effects and a kind of neon that just feels right. This also what gives many of the chords of “Scrawny” so much punch, and lets Wallows make a really compelling song with what is otherwise a fairly monotone set of notes. By the time you hit “Ice Cold Pool” the dance between horns and these kind of exotic little notes feels like its pulling from parts Alvvays and Vampire Weekend in the best ways.
Any number of tracks on this album can feel a touch derivative of other indie songs, though it all works well as part of their total sonic experience within the record. This is where Wallows’ new knack for great moments shines brightest as fun but straightforward tracks like “What You Like” and “Worlds Apart” really become greater due to a bridge or surprising hook that you’ll want to hear immediately after it’s over.
The reverb and surfy riffing gets a much brighter glow on “Remember When” as they find a new sense of rushing beats in their backbone. Though by this final section in the album, you can see where much of the songs will go, there’s still and addictive quality to the vocals around every turn. Along with this, a constantly explosive feeling in many of their choruses and bridges brings a tension to the music that really helps on repeat listens. It’s also great to see Wallows really get crazy on “Do Not Wait” in an effort to broaden their horizons and really see what they can do as a band without conforming to the usual radio time constraints.
Words by Owen Maxwell