Album Review – Happy Now by The Wild Kindness (2018) (20 Sided Records)

In my youth I had a mate called Phil. This lad was notable for a couple of things. he was an absolute animal on the football pitch, not in the ‘he was a tough tackling tigerish midfielder manner’, but more a clumsy oaf that would accidentally break people. Eventually he snapped the leg of his best friend  in a game, despite the fact they were on the same team. He acquired the moniker ‘Mad Dog’ thereafter, which he is still referred to as today.

Perhaps his lack of manual dexterity was caused by his inability to ever thwart his dynamism. For Phil simply could not keep still. He did everything at break neck speed, with an energy that made me feel strangely invigorated in his presence. He even sat down ‘busy’ as he was one of these leg shaking sorts that used to drive you to distraction in the exam hall.
Although, obviously not as dangerous as my mate Phil, Happy Now by Bay Area San Francisco based band The Wild Kindness gives me the same feeling of invigoration (minus the leg shaking annoyance) as, like Phil, this album sees them completely unable to root to a singular place as their superb talents see them pay perfected homage to various jangle-pop nuanced stylistics.

Initially there is more than a brief acknowledgement to all things Dunedin, especially in the muted, terse and sententious vocal delivery that are flattened out with a precision usually only found in and around that particular scene in New Zealand. Although many different stylistics are mixed into overall sound during the tenure of this album, such vocals remain a constant that effectively ensures the album remains grounded and does not eventually fall over the precipice into all things that could be considered scattershot.

The first of the many different stylistics of this dynamic album can be seen in the Power-pop dominated tracks of Exceptionally FreeTrace Yr Veins (with its ultimately early 1990’s Sonic Youth swirl tempered by the more traditional power-pop of modern bands such as The Stanleys – see track below) and Long Haul which are done with such aplomb that the listener could be forgiven for wanting this style of track to become the status quo of the album.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3490195504/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/track=3471718872/transparent=true/

However this album does not succumb to mere sedentary concepts and the second and true stand out track of this outstanding album, Space Companion (see below), sees the band move on to what could be considered their spiritual ‘Bay Area Home’ as it, and indeed Pills and Wine, flirt with the subtle psyche/paisley inflections that the area is famous for. Again The Wild Kindness show their musical versatility moving seamlessly from one area of aplomb to the next.

Space Companion

The final area of expertise that The Wild Kindness master in this album is the quiet psych/guitar, dare I say, ‘almost sophisti-pop sound’ as can be seen in tracks such as the beautiful Low Roads (see below) and Noise and Smoky Breath. Ultimately these tracks end up having simply to much muscle to be considered as truly sophisti-pop, but the melodic essence and 80’s style harmonies are so prevalent that these tracks will almost certainly appeal to fans of the genre.

I will most certainly buy future releases as the promise of continued stylistic dynamism ensures that the listener is treated to one of the few bands who can move between genre nuances with ease and without displaying the sort of irritating seams that other multi genre bands reveal when they ‘don’t quite get it right’.

The Wild Kindness get it very right…all of the time.

Artists Links

https://www.facebook.com/
https://thewildkindness.com
https://thewildkindness.bandcamp.com/

Label Links

20sidedrecords.com,
Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp

4 comments

  1. I've been asking around with my SF area pals to see if anyone knows these guys — so far no, which kinda surprises me. I really like what I've heard and when we get our Big Stir Bay Area shows going later this year I want to hit them up!

    Like

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