Aside from the ridiculous mental state of LIVING ON DA EDGE 24-7 that summer forces one into, I do remember a fair bit of self-induced hazy melancholia that my young teenage self would cozy up to back in the day. You know, that summer low – toxic in its ability to get you enjoying that feeling of being debased and being sad and biking around in the evenings in the suburbs in the sweltering heat with that old radio department cd playing on repeat on your iPod. Wild Nothing reminds me of that. And maybe to some extent the genre of ‘shoe-gaze’ (which the band does fit into) in and of itself projects a sound of summer sadness that one can drink deeply without being too affected (we’re talking riding around on trains alone and staring at the clouds melancholy here, not some Lars Von Trier shit), Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing has that low hanging dreary voice that would belong in the same club as the men of 80’s pop; deep, potentially brooding, but hanging under a melody and rhythm both catchy and somewhat upbeat.
Nocturne, Wild Nothing’s second full length album released in late summer 2012 opens with ‘Shadow’, a song that immediately sets the pace of an album which promises a beautiful arrangement of noise that treads between Tatum’s youthful melodies but charmingly familiar themes of young love, being lost and being found. As the album unfolds you realize that Nocturne is a nest of accessible but carefully crafted sound. Tatum is oh so good at making that summer lakeside music seem easy, but repeated listens will reveal such a wide variety of instruments and arrangements, and an increasing space to test out multiple genres. After ‘Midnight Song’, and the album’s title track both seamlessly play out in all its shoegazey glory, ‘Through The Grass’, the fourth track, bursts forward with the haunting energy of music from a different decade – spectacularly constructed, heavy and sombre with an epic undertone of something that could be played in a large rock arena.
After this, nestled in the heart of Nocturne is my personal favourite and quite honestly a gem of a song, ‘Only Heather’. It has all the makings of a giddy number – the story of a boy hopelessly in love with an inaccessible female, a perfectly catchy melody, Tatum’s low vocals stretching just high enough to sound utterly sincere, and unlimited ‘ooohs’ during a chorus of ‘i’m with Heather’. Oh man this song is gooood.
It’s difficult to describe an album that doesn’t insist on being too loud as something that ‘packs a punch’. But to be honest thats exactly what Nocturne does. It doesn’t make a fuss of itself or try to hog the spotlight, but i’d say its one of the best albums of the previous year. It does what it sets out to do adeptly, and I can’t find a song worth criticizing in the whole album. Wild Nothing, or rather, Tatum, comes into himself as an artist on this album, and as a listener the experience of hearing a musician find his footing with such grace and talent so early into his career is invigorating. Tatum is extremely aware of every second in each song, but the swift ability of each track to pull you in and lull you into that dazed July/August half-sleep can easily make you forget the weight of the work behind the noise.
Wild Nothing recently released an EP this May which I purposely didn’t centre this post around because Nocturne really is DA best. If this is your first time listening to this band, this album should set the standards high but also give you a fantastic set of songs to listen to when the summer heat drops a bit and all is quiet in the late evening for just a few seconds. I’ve been gone a month, and this feels like a good way to slip back into this blog, mid-summer, offering up Tatum’s sweet sweet vocals as a distraction to the extended absence. It’s all good guys, just STFU and listen to the good stuff.