Music Reviews
Wild Smile

Suckers Wild Smile

(Frenchkiss) Rating - 9/10

Black Sheep, Wild Smileʼs first single, wears Modest Mouse on its sleeve: all disco drums, rumbling bass, and jagged guitar, itʼs a latter-day Tiny Cities Made of Ashes. The song even features a homage to/rip-off of Isaac Brockʼs screaming-into-pickups technique. Suckers and Modest Mouse also share the habit of building songs to a grand, singular pronouncement, though while Modest Mouseʼs are usually viciously shouted and existentially bleak, Suckersʼ channel Arcade Fire chest-thumping. Thereʼs a fair bit of that on Wild Smile, actually – Roman Candles, in particular, is as much of a “the kids” anthem as anything Win Butlerʼs ever recorded. Itʼs also one of Wild Smileʼs many booze-soaked, end-of-summer jams, rhyming its title with “empty liquor handles”. The most notable of these is It Gets Your Body Movinʼ: Suckersʼ signature song, itʼs a slow- burning, swaying sing-along.

Suckers are unabashed about their influences, so itʼs worth noting a few more, especially Talking Heads, whose new wave pop sensibilities pervade the album. It Gets Your Body Movinʼs preoccupation with death via heart attack recalls labelmates the Dodosʼ Fools – not a flippant comparison, as they share a fondness for African rhythms and Beach Boys vocal harmonies (see also: Before Your Birthday Ends). You Can Keep Me Runninʼ Around even sounds like a Blue Rodeo cover, with its “out of touch”s. And with lines like “Well thatʼs a pretty little get-up you got on tonight / Iʼd like to see it round your ankles while we scratch and we bite,” there's even a Crystal Castles vibe (lyrically, at least) on Black Sheep Courtship Dating, maybe, or Through the Hosiery.

Wild Smile is more than just a collection of homages, though. To wit: Marthaʼs mariachi horns and marimbas, the former a holdover from 7” b-side Out on the Water. In the hands of a less capable band, it would sound like tacky faux-world music, but Suckers transform it into a bright-eyed epic. Part of it is simple variety: the album segues from feverish shouting to delicate falsetto to bossa nova. And yet, Wild Smile holds together – everything clicks; Suckers make this stylistic smorgasbord indisputably their own.