Having sprung from his dorm room with bold ambitions on the dream-pop packed debut ‘Gemini’ then repeating the feat all over with the even richer follow-up ‘Nocturne’ in 2012, Jack Tatum’s songwriting smarts were never in any doubt. It’s what he chooses to do stylistically with Wild Nothing that keeps people guessing and intrigued.
On his third album ‘Life Of Pause’, his recent aim to “constantly reinvent” Wild Nothing’s sound shows a writer who puts paid to being pigeonholed, with a constant itch to move forward and explore new sounds. You get the sense it’s the album Wild Nothing have been leading up to. Whilst both previous albums showed Tatum’s ambition, this time having the resources to decamp the band to Sweden, to record with Peter Bjorn & John’s John Ericsson, seems to have propelled their ever-growing sound. Saxophones, live string orchestras and marimbas move their late 80’s indebted indie pop to new levels.
Opening with the tropical polyrhythms of ‘Reichpop’, the album soon takes in sugary, early 90’s power-pop (‘Japanese Alice’), Talk Talk-indebted new wave (‘TV Queen’) fuzzy dream pop (‘To Know You’) and much more in between. And though the sound on ‘Life Of Pause’ is commendably altered from previous LP’s, there’s still plenty here to satisfy fans of Wild Nothing’s previous offerings. ‘Adore’, for example, with its echoes of 2012’s ‘Nowehere’ single, is a lush highlight that suggests Tatum may have been giving Tame Impala’s ‘Lonerism’ a few spins during his writing process. It proves why Tatum’s songwriting needs little seasoning in order to stand out, the sloping bass line and spacious vocals sounding like a downbeat Mark Bolan coated in psych swirls.
Upon hearing ‘Life Of Pause’ you can make sense of Tatum’s recent statement of being “terrified by the idea of being any one thing, or of being any one genre”. It’s not an album that slopes along, resting on its laurels. More an album that demands repeated listens, at times creates confusion, and juts from one influence to the next. Tatum’s record collection is clearly solid, and now he can again add one of his own to it.
Words: Clarke Geddes
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