On the New Album ‘Indigo,’ Wild Nothing Brings a Modern Twist to Sounds of the ’80s
Some music makes you move. Other does the transporting for you. Wild Nothing’s fourth release, Indigo, does both.
Certainly Jack Tatum, who formed Wild Nothing in 2009, has travelled far from his beginnings in Blacksburg, Virginia to his adopted home of Los Angeles. Inspired by the legendary C86 bands (’80s indie pop from the United Kingdom) as well as dreamy pop stalwarts such as Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel and Cocteau Twins, Tatum has been driving Wild Nothing towards Indigo, an apotheosis of trippy, echo-y indie rock as timeless as it is current.
“I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record,” Tatum says, “as close as I could get it there. It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love.”
He opens with a nod to The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” transposed into the floating, motorik “Letting Go,” the perfect amalgamation of guitar-laden New Wave and steady pulsing krautrock. (The video — a blend of death and transformation and guilt — features both snails and an example of prime beefcake posing in a skimpy bikini.)
“Canyon on Fire” blends the psychodrama of Tears for Fears with the melodic sensuality of a contemporary act, Lower Dens (Tatum, with his ethereal high tenor, should duet with the husky frontwoman Jana Hunter as soon as possible). The searching “Shallow Water” evokes In Rainbows-era Radiohead — all that echo and delay in the production — while “Partners In Motion” treads new ground for Tatum.
“I’m observant, but I don’t think of myself as a storyteller. I can’t write songs in the Bob Dylan sense,” he says. But “Partners In Motion,” with its expressive ’80s-style sax break, captures a moment in the life of some friends. “It’s a song of domestic scenes and expectations inspired by helping friends put together a dollhouse for their daughter; the feeling of peering into the home life of others or even my own.”
Lyrical content is not the end game for Wild Nothing (as it wasn’t for his revered antecedents). Mood is what he’s best at, and he’s never been better at it than on Indigo. It’s as evocative as Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring or The Cure’s Disintegration, though unlike either. His predecessors, no doubt, would be proud of his accomplishment.
Indigo by Wild Nothing is out today.
Featured image by Cara Robbins