The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt


4.5
superb

Review

by Cam EMERITUS
April 2nd, 2010 | 1312 replies | 84,450 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Wild Hunt is an album built on contradictions, and is all the better for it.

I’m not about to say that the comparison isn’t inviting, or even inaccurate, but the off-handedness with which many compare Kristian Matsson to early Bob Dylan is really starting to irk me. Yes, the two are folk mavericks whose material is instrumentally skeletal, and, yes, both have voices that are acidic and abrasive, as well as emotional and humane. Yada yada yada. But while Dylan uses his music as a platform, Matsson’s stuff is much more for himself, being expressive but fragile in how personal these expressions are; almost as if his whole “making music” thing is only therapeutic, and thus only released to the public because it’s just too damn good for it not to be. To further clarify: Matsson’s music is filled with statements like “I’m the light of the middle of every man’s fall” and “I want to be the King of Spain”, but also “love is fake; so I get hurt”, in almost the next breath. Dylan, as damn good as he is, never got that wide-ranging in his early days; he never went for the heartstrings or tried to emphasize with all those messy emotions of the listener – perhaps only because he didn’t give a shit. But Matsson does, or at least his songs are genuine enough for me to think so, and this is why the Dylan-TMOE comparison is thus rendered moot.

It’s also why, by God, I might even like Matsson more than Dylan. Matsson makes music that is emphatic and nostalgic and expressive, all of these at once, which is something someone like me needs most of the time, something I can feed on. Like, those emotions and shit, or just something relatable to get me through the night with having to resort to getting totally fucked. It’s all needed. This makes The Wild Hunt kind of like a little revelation, then. Armed with nothing more than some sort of hidden, God-given knowledge of how the human mind actually works, and an acoustic guitar (and a piano holy shit!), Matsson becomes an actual artist right before our eyes on this, his best album. He trumps his incredible debut in every way without resorting to drastic tactics in order to avoid some sophomore slump, instead subtly perfecting his approach to great effect.

Like its predecessor, The Wild Hunt is built upon swift, brisk melodies and a mastery of the acoustic guitar; the ability to fingerpick gingerly than strum violently without even a second going past, and without ever seeming flashy. Yet while Shallow Grave was almost completely a hard-hitting, gut-punching affair, shouting declarations constantly, on The Wild Hunt Matsson has learned to affect a whisper, or at least be a little softer when the occasion strikes. Sure, on a song like “Troubles Will Be Gone”, Matsson still gets all soulful and expressive, turning that shit up to 11 and maximizing the capabilities of his angelic vocals. But check out that subdued acoustic performance; check out how Matsson relies almost only on lighter tones and almost never on chords, how he lets the fragility of his vocals show through his playing. The hopeful lyrics confirm it: Matsson has learned to convey a breezy lightness that wasn’t quite present on Shallow Grave, an album that could’ve used the reprieves that are numerously provided here, with “The Drying of the Lawns” and “Thousand Ways” following narrowly in the footsteps of “Troubles Will Be Gone”. This lighter touch makes these songs initially seem unwieldy; someone used to the directness of Shallow Grave might find these initially unremarkable. But the moment when something as subdued as “The Wild Hunt” finally shows its true brilliance (mind you, it shouldn’t really take that long) makes the wait all the better.

Yet there’s songs like “King of Spain” on The Wild Hunt, which is much more of the wild affair suggested by the album’s title. Matsson’s tale of chasing tail in a country far south of his own is sprightly and humorous, and Matsson’s voice simply roars when he reaches the song’s most exciting moments, being its chorus. It’s his best and most wide-reaching song, as well as being fucking catchy. It, and “You’re Going Back” and “A Lion’s Heart”, are affirmations that Matsson’s still your go-to guy for guiding lost souls (including your own) through some truly heavy stuff, without leaving any mess behind. These songs are concise and exacting, and the balance they create with songs like “Love is All” (which is ingeniously placed right after “King of Spain”) is what makes The Wild Hunt such an improvement on its predecessor. Not everything’s loaded with aggression or melancholy here; there’s balance and order. If Shallow Grave was an album that said “I Will Not Be Found”, than The Wild Hunt’s one that says “Trouble Will Be Gone” – accepting, rather than rejecting. Its impact resonates far further.

And “Kids on the Run” is this resonation. His first piano ballad, Matsson gives more than his all on this apt closer, a nostalgic, yet somewhat worrisome (“Will we ever confess for what we done?”, it asks, before dismissing the question with an uncertain “I guess we’re just kids on the run”) song that thoroughly sums up The Wild Hunt, a rollercoaster of expression and not-expressing and soft and loud and singing and bellowing manically – its all recapitulated with a song that’s so uncertain it’s off-putting. Yet I can’t imagine a better way for The Wild Hunt to end. As an album that seemingly understands so much about the human condition, what better way to close than to simply speak the truth – who knows what the fuck the future stores, for me or you or The Tallest Man on Earth or anyone else? And who cares? In the song, Matsson, as the narrator, doesn’t as long as he has his unnamed female counterpoint. I’m not about to say an album can replace something like that, but damn – all hyperbole aside, The Wild Hunt’s pretty close.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Douglas
April 2nd 2010



9098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Fantastic review, I love this album in the way it irks you with its subtle warmth.



Digging: James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

ihopeuchoke
April 2nd 2010



668 Comments


I'm so excited for this. And this review just added on to my excitement.

SeaAnemone
April 2nd 2010



20049 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Fantastic review. this is why you're one of my favorite reviewers on Sputnik. Album is best of the year so far... along with King of Spain and Kids On the Run being the two best songs so far, or pretty close to it.

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

Time
April 2nd 2010



81 Comments


this album is just the best, nice review

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



10329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

looka t cam, just posting whenever h eWANTS

Digging: Literature - Chorus

SeaAnemone
April 2nd 2010



20049 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

rudy stop being drunk. way to kill the mood.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



15732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review, loved the point on the "king of spain" "love is all" sequencing, dead on.

This album's going to be in my top 3 by the end of the year i dont know where yet but in the top 3 for sure

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



17204 Comments


drunk ass rudy. stunning album

Douglas
April 2nd 2010



9098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Rudy is always drunk

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



10329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

don't judge me eric

btw amazing this albuym has a 4.3 ratig with 63 ratings

joshuatree
Emeritus
April 2nd 2010



3743 Comments


yeah dougie i think the rule is that you have to wait until a stream until you can post yours, don't hold me to that though man

and woo drunk rudy

SeaAnemone
April 2nd 2010



20049 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

the key when you come back to your room drunk at 2am is to comment on something obscure, not what's sure to be the most popular review over the next few days... trust me.

but yeah, this album should enjoy its glory til MTB and Gaslight Anthem release.

Douglas
April 2nd 2010



9098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

cool man i will hold my horses.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



10329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i don't discriminate between whats popular and whats not - i comment on sick reviews, and cam is my seceret lover so i had to give him props. this album fucking rules

also i'm not quite durnk yet

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



17204 Comments


also i'm not quite durnk yet

there's your problem.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



10329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i type too fast bro

Douglas
April 2nd 2010



9098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

i don't discriminate between whats popular and whats not


should run for president.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
April 2nd 2010



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is the SHIT. And I couldn't imagine writing a better review, Cam. Bravo.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

the fuck's up cam

Oceanus
April 2nd 2010



877 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ace review. Album is awesome.



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