Music Reviews

Wild Nothing Gemini

(Captured Tracks) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

Brooklyn label Captured Tracks must change their philosophy as caterers to the independent minded - or get better music consultants. In recent memory, there hasn’t been an independent label with such a forward-thinking approach to looking backwards. Take recent acquisitions Wetdog and Beach Fossils, both of whom made perfectly adequate debuts with underachieving aspirations. Which is respectable, especially if you’re hungry for instant pleasures and suffer from amnesia. Though imitation may be the best form of flattery, the musical palette is far too wide-ranging to repeatedly waste it on saturated throwbacks.

Which brings me to Jack Tatum, aka Wild Nothing, a Virginia born talent with the muscle to carry a mean synth-line throughout the entirety of his debut Gemini. With an evident desire to speak to the forlorn, his compassioned tales of sorrow mainly bring back the sentimentality of goth/dream pop - with the exclusion of eyeliner and suicidal despair. While an inherent sadness pounds constantly throughout Gemini’s lyrical structure, the airy, bouncy sequencing of the songs themselves push towards pop’s much-disclosed boundaries.

The main factor concerning Wild Nothing’s groundwork should, more than anything, rely on how they set out to do it. Unfortunately, Living in Dreams doesn’t make a good first impression, strumming some rudimentary chords with accompanying jangle effects and keyboard flourishes. Not to mention, Tatum’s bored vocal delivery is so limited, you could easily perceive his breathless monotone tremble by its last bar lines. In easily likable single Summer Holiday, an acoustic mid-tempo jangle serves as the basic skeleton to lash out some ghostly backing vocals. Quite an engaging single, except it sounds like a carbon copy of Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s already played-out, jaded melodies – and without Pains’ brawny craft.

The high points in Gemini come when Tatum stops his research and decides to experiment. Pessimist is oddly affecting, dismissing any conventional instrumentals in favour of some droned electronics and idiophone sparks to compliment the altered, subdued vocals. Chinatown and Confirmation, though sharing a common electro-pop stance, stir up out two of the most listenable synth hooks of this past year. Simplistic as they are, they make up for an electro-bore like Drifter, a new wave aesthetic with hokey drum machines and keyboard effects that is the equivalent of the Black Kids trying to impersonate New Order’s dance textures, but only reaching the level of a lesser Human League.

Gemini is an indisputably average debut that is far too contrived to place it among the elite indie-pop contemporaries. The melodies are often flat, with arrangements that serve as supplementary renditions of more memorable eighties acts. Now that Tatum has freed his all-encompassing muse, he can now start to work on all the slush he left around the room to make something constructive out of it.