Wild Nothing – Laughing Gas

It’s hard to believe that in 2020 Wild Nothing, the musical vehicle of Jack Tatum, has been around for eleven years. In that time the veteran of dreamy layered indie pop has perfected an innocent and wistful writing style you might typically associate more with younger bands. In recent years Tatum has leaned heavily on 1980s influences such as Talking Heads, Bowie and The Cure among others and incorporating it into his increasingly quirky brand of indie pop. Coming two years after previous album Indigo, Wild Nothing‘s latest EP picks up right where its predecessor left off.

Tatum croons “let me self indulge” over gentle synths and slick bass hooks on opener “Sleight of Hand” and while Wild Nothing does indulge in off kilter chord-progressions, unconventional arrangements and exotic effects it comes off without feeling too self-indulgent. “Dizziness” pushes the envelope even harder mixing new wave with a frantic kaleidoscope of synths before the song regains its balance in the more plaintive second half. As Tatum apologizes “excuse my manners, I seem to be unwinding” it sounds like Wild Nothing are only winding up. Lead single “Foyer” follows with a commanding swagger and lush tapestry of synths. Vocals and guitar take a backseat to the confident groove and allows the bass be the lead instrument in another song that pushes conventional pop song structures. Blue Wings” is the closest Wild Nothing come to their Gemini and Nocturne era style with more prominent guitars that strum and sparkle alongside a singalong chorus. Although the lyrics are cryptic, the vocals are colorfully layered marking this song as a standout track on Laughing Gas and filled with some of its most memorable melodies. Any rules still left standing are thrown out by the final track “The World is a Hungry Place” where Jack Tatum experiments with odd time signatures and looped guitar. The track has a very loose freewheeling feel thanks to a jazzy improvised saxophone and lyrics that flow like a stream of consciousness.

Perhaps without the pressure of a full length album on his shoulders Jack Tatum used the freedom afforded by an EP to test the boundaries of what Wild Nothing are capable of and where he can go musically in the second decade of his career. Laughing Gas may be a long way from “Summer Holiday” but Wild Nothing have never been a band willing to repeat themselves and in 2020 Jack Tatum seems willing to challenge the very concept of what can be done in the context of a dreampop song.

Highlights: Foyer, Blue Wings

For Fans Of: Beach Fossils, Craft Spells, Blouse

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