There is something to be said for an artist that is comfortable in their own skin, and make no mistake, Wild Nothing front man Jack Tatum’s comfort level is with music from the 1980’s. Wild Nothing, released their second album “Nocturne” a couple of days ago, a follow up to the critically successful full length debut “Gemini”. While “Gemini” certainly had it’s charm, the hazy debut at times seemed to lose it’s excitement at times for this listener, but was promising enough for me to look forward to Tatum’s next adventure. “Nocturne” delivers on the promise that “Gemini” provided on Tatum’s debut, while providing better production quality, as well as a more self-assured sounding follow up.
The album begins with one of the best songs that Tatum has ever written in ‘Shadow’, a song with that displays Tatum’s deftness with getting the listener into a fun, dream-like state; intertwining upbeat, yet delicate guitars with some strings. ‘Midnight Song’ follows the first track with a nice jangly guitar riff and drum beat that feels brash compared to some of the music we heard on “Gemini”. Third track, and album title ‘Nocturne’ is a gem of a song with it’s twinkling guitars and at times a deeper voiced Tatum channeling his inner Simple Minds voice, if even for a second or two. ‘Through The Grass’ is possibly the prettiest song on the album, with it’s stilted but powerful drum beat, making me think of a guy at an 80’s dance watching his favorite gal slow dance with the jerk-off quarterback. You just know he is going to tap that bastard on the shoulder and punch him in the face.
There is of course songs about girls on this album. ‘Only Heather’, is an upbeat number, that well, is an ode to someone named Heather. ‘Rheya’ begins with Tatum’s best Washed Out impression, a reverb soaked song about a girl he is trying to forget. ‘Paradise’ begins with a Cyndi Lauper ‘Time After Time’ feel to it before a funky guitar rhythm enters the mix, giving the song a playfulness amongst the beautiful production. Album favorite for me, ‘Counting Days’ might not be out of place on a Thompson Twins album, but that is okay with me because we all know the Thompson Twins are awesome. Remember what I said about an artist being comfortable in their own skin? There is nothing wrong with an artist who isn’t afraid to play music you can tell he listens to. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Tatum’s record collection is full of The Cure albums. As a listener, that personal connection to his music comes through, not sounding forced in some attempt to sell lots of units on Itunes. And while it may be safe that Wild Nothing isn’t going outside of their comfort zone on “Nocturne”, it’s also what makes them a pleasurable listen.
“Nocturne” isn’t flashy or in your face, never going over the top indulging in too much production. It’s more subtle than that, but nothing I would call simple. Wild Nothing is a band growing into a strong fixture in the indie-rock scene, and if I had one complaint, it might be with the rarely changing tempo of his songs, which can make some of his music blend together. It’s a small complaint though, and individually these songs stand out as well crafted tunes that Tatum can be proud of.