Sunglasses – Wildlife

<img src="" alt="Sunglasses ; Wildlife" /><br /> <i>Wildlife</i>'s press plays up the thing that brings it down. ...
4.5 Mush

Sunglasses : Wildlife Wildlife‘s press plays up the thing that brings it down.  “Singer/multi-instrumentalist Samuel Cooper and DJ/sound designer Brady Keehn use everything from acoustic guitars to iPhones,” it reads,  “Seamlessly blending analogue with digital to immersive, psychedelic effect.”

There’s nothing novel about strumming while sampling, but forgive the stupid “analogue with digital” bit.  Focus on the “blending.”  Or, honestly, the pureeing.  The band’s layered approach has a few moments, but most of the time, they’re just putting things on top of other things, playing nothing well and mixing the whole thing into a bland mess.

“Swim” is a good example.  The body of the song includes rudimentary electric guitar, piano, and synth tracks that serve little purpose, unless the purpose is just to have lots of tracks.  There’s a neatly arranged 90-second intro, but it’s quickly forgotten once their more-is-less approach takes over.  The chorus vocal melody is okay, but it’s accompanied by busy, clunky percussion, a mess of synths, and really bad guitar.

It doesn’t have to be this way!  “Lessons”, the longest cut at 7:29, shows the knacks for arrangement and (relative) restraint that the other songs lack.  Not only is the arrangement better, but also the riffs are both better and better played, and there’s a sense of narrative missing elsewhere.

The band also tries some more conventional songs.  The best of these is “Wildlife”, which sounds like fun.  But the rest, besides some neat melodies (“Common Sense” “Blessing”) and breaks (“Sailing”), are unmemorable.

Panda Bear and late-90s Flaming Lips quickly come to mind when listening to this album’s collages and pop songs, respectively.  But even at their most layered, both groups have some economy.  Too many of the sounds on Wildlife add nothing to the emotional punch of the music, and obscure the few parts that do.

Sunglasses – Wildlife

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