Wild Nothing // Nocturne // August 28 // Captured Tracks
I can’t seem to escape this certain curse of being interested in bands that started out making hazy music back when chillwave was the hot new thing. C’mon, it was a good sound that lasted a couple of months before everyone got bored and moved on to something else. Most of chillwave artists have moved on too. Look at Twin Shadow and his all American pop soap Confess. Wild Nothing debut Gemini came out at around the same time when Twin Shadow was riding Forget hype. All the comparisons stop here as Wild Nothing’s second LP Nocturne has nothing on Lewis Jr.
Really, if you were a bedroom producer back in 09/10 then you probably moved on to one of the two things that chillwave tied up in the first place. Now you’re either making pop music and trying to make it big instead of just aiming for meaningless Youtube video views, or you pick up the guitars and carry on with the sound while giving it a more organic delivery. The latter is the sort of stuff that Nocturne is made of. Wild Nothing were never the kind of bunch to shy away from the guitars but their best moments like Chinatown or Cloudbusting (originally by Kate Bush, obviously) made you forget that there are actual instruments swirling around your head. Better than most of their peers Wild Nothing crafted melodies out of thin air. If anything, their debut was the album that deserved the title like Forget. That is something that can be said about Nocturne but only because its completely derivative and forgettable 80’s pastiche.
The sort of music on here isn’t your typical 80s guitar pop revivalism with jangly production as much as it is borrowing of the decade’s ideology. Forgettable verses backed by choruses that might’ve passed back in the day, maybe it would’ve passed back in 2007 but in the present day the sort of sound found here is not only done to death but also pointlessly emotionless. Nocturne is very subtle, big drums backed with gentle acoustic guitar finger-picking, silky smooth vocals drowned in reverb cooing vocal hooks like it’s 1982. The coda to the title track on here is basically a Prefab Sprout song, no joke. Usually people get out their 80s comparisons when there’s some sort of airy analog synth on the album or something but Nocturne evokes such nostalgia by other means and it’s not a good thing either. For someone who started out thrown in a deadbeat genre, Nocturne isn’t a step forward, rather being a retreat into something predictable, something safe and something boring. Nocturne sums up this lack of ambition which becomes grating a couple of songs in because of the lackluster songwriting. How many times do I have to tell these shitty American bands. Having reverb everywhere does not excuse you from writing a hook. Stupid yanks.
One could go ahead and say that Nocturne like a period of time while staring into the summer sky. Fair enough, just like Gemini, it does make me want to get a straw hat and go pick flowers but at the same time, I got Bloom for that, a record that is not that dissimilar to Nocturne but around 100 times better just because the songwriting manages to catch such warmth. Nocturne is shapeless, as much a summer album as it is a winter one. It certainly doesn’t live up to its title though as this is anything but night time music. Other than being passively offensive and sounding like Simply Red, Nocturne is the definition of summery mediocrity.