Wild Nothing - Nocturne | Album Review | By Volume

I'm afraid of heaven because I can't stand the height. I'm afraid of you because I can't be left behind. St. Vincent - Regret

Wild Nothing


Similar, yet, different. Jack Tatum continues his stride.

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Author: on September 8, 2012
Captured Tracks
August 28, 2012

I suppose it is best to highlight an aspect of Nocturne before we begin here: it is not all that different from Gemini  Wild Nothing’s excitingly airy debut. Though to quantify it as similar in turn would short-sell the progression Jack Tatum has made between his first and second record.  This is Gemini’s lush instrumentation, airy vocals and child-like wonder filtered through the hands and mind of a weathered soul. If Tatum’s debut was him outstretching his arms wide into youthful nostalgia – Nocturne is adolescence reflected upon from a great distance. The album’s polish and distinctively more sullen nature suits Tatum and his more expansive songwriting exceptionally; he still is able to sound distinct while so many try to imitate a similar aesthetic. Which in truth is what grants Nocturne such staying power, similarly to Gemini upon its release, he is not treading new ground – he is simply taking a given acreage and brilliantly landscaping.

Wild Nothing has always possessed distinct, earthy bass tones amongst their ethereal guitar riffs and airy keys. Nocturne finds Tatum accentuating this detail to his songwriting – the record is remarkably warm to the ears. Whereas Gemini was content to keep its distance with more wayward and chilly tunes, Nocturne is a furnace of glimmering pop music. With what one would assume is a more lucrative budget the second go-around Tatum is granted a talent in producer Nicolas Vernhes, who along with Jack, transform Wild Nothing’s loose pop into tightly knit, instantly captivating pop. Where a venture into the past translates into: a shimmering world of post-punk bounce, dream pop grandeur and 80s R&B exuberance—that seemingly elevates an already distinguishable sound to a more accessible but equally as explorative level.

Simply put: Jack Tatum has grown as an artist, become more comfortable as a musician while never losing what made Wild Nothing so enchanting to begin with. Sure one could point to acts such as DIIV, Twin Shadow or Beach Fossils as curiously similar musicians but I would argue each has taken individual stances on the maturation of their beachy, sentimental dream pop – enough so to stand out from a legion of similar bands. And I would also argue that Tatum once again has positioned himself at the head of this reasonably gifted group with the release of Nocturne. Opening track “Shadow” with its string arrangements and wiry riffs postures Tatum much differently from his debut right from the onset. By the time you’ve reached the spacey stand-out “Only Heather” – Jack’s open letter of devotion – Nocturne has already provided enough saccharine-soaked hooks that one would wonder where else they have to go. That answer would be “Paradise” a bass-soaked new wave homage that would have Cut Copy writhing in joy. Along with “Only Heather” they couple as Tatum’s finest works yet from my viewpoint and lay the groundwork for an artist to really go nowhere but up.

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