Review Summary: Your summer rush of indie-pop has just arrived.
Wild Moccasins aren’t a household name, but that might be about to change. Look Together
is technically the group’s third full-length LP, although it feels more like their debut. Signed to New West records and produced by Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Gnarls Barkely), there is a focus this time around on perfecting the band’s pop sensibilities. Frontwoman Zahira Gutierrez belts out massive-sounding choruses left and right, while the rest of the band has Look Together
sounding like Chvrches and Best Coast got together and headed out for a night of dancing. It’s one of those summer rushes, where the music doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated as long as it’s fun and upbeat. It’s got its share of clichés, sure, but only in the same way that it is tradition to put your hands way up while riding a roller coaster. It’s just too fun not to indulge a little bit.
The band makes its mission known from the start, with ‘Boyish Wave’ washing over listeners like a cool breeze; an electro-pop cure all for those endless July heatwaves. The emphasis on sleek production and electronic undertones perfectly complements Gutierrez’ vocal style, while also giving us a preview of the atmosphere in which the whole of Look Together
resides. It’s really the perfect overture in that sense – even though the album becomes more inclusive of various styles/genres as it progresses. The guitar-heavy elements of Wild Moccasin’s early catalog, for example, still appear from time to time – such as on ‘Longtime Listener’, where Cody Swann (guitars/vocals) guides the album towards a nostalgic, Bryan Adams kind of aura – only more fun
, like Beach Slang decided to join the party or something . Even when they aren’t the primary force driving the album’s momentum, those guitars can still be heard toiling away in the background, or even churning out a token solo – like on the back half of ‘Temporary Vase’, where Swann delivers a series of well-placed consecutive riffs.
For the most part, however, Look Together
plunges into the deep end of the new wave/electronic pool, constructing an atmosphere that feels like a modernized, digitized take on glam-rock. The fusion of styles is at its absolute best on ‘No Muse’ – a song embarrassingly rich in hooks that culminates right on cue at its self-empowering chorus: “I’m no use to you unless I’m undressed / You cut me in two unless I say yes / I’m no muse to you.” It’s hands-down Gutierrez’s strongest vocal and lyrical performance, and the shimmering synths that underlay the entire experience only offer up additional assets. If anything from this record were to launch Wild Moccasins into stardom, it’s ‘No Muse’ – a track that combines everything that the band is about into a tidy four minute package.
may be more about earworm melodies and summer-vibing than realizing emotional depth or musical complexity, but that’s rarely an issue when it is done this well. The slightly larger problem is that, despite the apparent blending of new wave, indie-pop, and guitar-rock into one album, the songs still struggle to differentiate themselves from one another. It’s difficult to pinpoint why that is, but the most plausible explanation is that every track incorporates everything
, to the extent that hearing one song is akin to hearing them all. This may seem like a harsh assessment, but the correction is simple: use a little more restraint, and spread the influences throughout the record’s runtime more generously so that the band’s strengths can be accented individually. After all, Wild Mocassins possess a great deal of vocal, instrumental, and creative talent…so to throw it all at the listener on every song feels like a world cup player trying to get a shot on goal every time his foot touches the ball. There’s an art to the set-up, and it’s something that could benefit Wild Mocassins on future outings.
By the end of Look Together
, what you have is the kind of album that compels you to get in the car and just drive
…up the coast, with windows down and the sun beating on your face. It urges you to tap your feet, or maybe even break into dance. Some might call it a guilty pleasure, but it’s actually too well-crafted to qualify as that. This is a great summer indie-pop album, and while it is not without basic shortcomings, it’s those imperfections – and the relative simplicity
– that helps to make this so easy to delve into. In the meanwhile, here’s to hoping that Wild Moccasins get the attention they deserve for fashioning one of the most purely enjoyable albums of the summer.