Album Reviews: Wet Leg, The Vaccines, Colleen Green
Wet Leg – Wet Dream (Isle of Wight, U.K.)
There’s an ability to harness chaos that bands like Wet Leg just exemplify with seemingly effortless nuance. With two-track release, the project manages to fit in lush layers that blur indie rock, electronica and art-pop into a wonderful haze. The alluring harmonies of “Wet Dream” give off this simple charm as the song chugs out, only to make the wails and burst of instruments in the chorus feel like a true fiery step up. All the vocals play to the fast and loose tension of the song, and let it feel unpredictable and satisfying as it goes. There’s also this colourful edge to the lyrical play and way things are described that works off the very pop-focused construction to make a song that you constantly think is going one way and swerves. “Chaise Longue” also drifts through this concept, throwing a barrage of innuendo at you and then drenching the track in grime as it hits the chorus. The almost mantra-like chorus hook seems to play to this energy too, building a kind of sensual energy in its rhythms. The twisted tone that they approach the story and aesthetics to makes the track wonderfully warped, and adds this more explicit energy to otherwise mundane objects that is a fun subversion of everyday life.
Sweet Alibi – Slow Down (Single)(Winnipeg)
Warmth emanates from every note on “Slow Down” as Sweet Alibi find a smooth but personal groove to reflect on moving forward, versus actually taking time to breathe. Ironically the strong soars thanks to its ability to shift between sections without needlessly lingering for too long, especially as its post-chorus brings you to even higher and brighter hooks. All the moments that strip things down to the vocals have this dynamic weight to them, and it allows the track’s softer acoustic touch to feel more layered each time it comes back in. Whether it’s actually happening or simulated through the descending notes in later parts of the song, the feeling that the song itself almost grinds to a halt in its final chorus makes for a wonderfully meta moment as well.
The Vaccines – Back In Love City (London, U.K.)
With neon turning to borderline full-blown synth-pop with each record, the Vaccines definitely feel more like a pop band than a catchy indie-rock outfit. Though the lack of sonic edges will put off fans of the bands earlier work, the new album offers a more explorative storytelling element. The dance grooves of “Back In Love City” makes it easy to forget the sadder undertones of the song, especially as the band seem to cover the hooks with so many other guitars and voices that it can seem bright for something so inherently dark. The infectious side feels the most punchy on “Headphones Baby” as the band really throws melody after melody at you, and uses their penchant for shifting through bridges and new sections to make the song worth more than its hooks might usually leave to. The most grit comes out on “Wanderlust,” rollicking along with the luster (and trumpet riffs) of a Western film, but plays enough to expectations that it may play better live than it does on record. The bright light rush that they often bring every record feels like a great moment on “Jump Off The Top” as they call back to a track like “Norgaard” but make it feel like a truly euphoric release with a more sinister story under it.
Avery Raquel - Helpless (Single) (Hamilton)
The drift between a poppy high and a more swinging R&B backbone lets Avery Raquel’s “Helpless” get the best of both worlds. The way every section wraps on this kick up the scale between Raquel and the horns is grin-inducingly fresh, especially as it all cuts out. The interplay with the horns really keeps the track from getting too glossy, as it always feels like this organic form is expressing itself in the background. The mix of tones here is also a great tool for Raquel’s voice as an artist, as so many keys and the horns themselves just feel a tad unusual to the point it sounds unlike her contemporaries. Ultimately however, it’s the way Raquel’s voice drives the emotion and feeling of cheer in the song that leave you wanting to listen again and again.
Colleen Green – Cool (Lowell, MA)
Ever the shades-wearing icon of dreamy, indie pop, Colleen Green has come full-circle in her familiar yet singular approach to writing. With a laid-back feeling that lets her music surprise you, this record shows Green’s ability to craft smaller details and moments to make her arrangements really stand out here. Whether it’s the drum fills, looming growls of feedback or glistening sunny tones of “Someone Else” this slow-rolling track feels much more elevated than its minimalist façade might have you initially think. Though this doesn’t feel quite as strong in the playful “I Wanna Be a Dog” there’s a sunny disposition and cheeky wit to the lines she delivers that make it work. The melancholic overtones of “Highway” play as a more intriguing listen here, using Green’s explorations of a singular feeling to really leave you uneasy and at times in dread. Her pop makes for a fun subversion in the actual flow of “It’s Nice to Be Nice” as she laments the trouble with always trying to be the positive one despite the realities of the world.