Review Summary: This is a very good rock music album and you should listen to it and maybe you won’t like it, but that’s ok I’m happy you tried.
For an album that I’ve had on repeat for weeks, I’ve found it very difficult to find any words to say about Cub
and after sitting on it and sitting on my writer’s block, I finally realized that what made it so difficult to write about it was how simple it was. I don’t mean that in a songwriting sense at all, as Jacob Slater, the man behind Wunderhorse, has created some of the most well-crafted and interesting rock songs of this decade. What is simple about Cub
is that it is a band with a singer, some guitars, a bassist, and a drummer making songs comprised of a singer, some guitars, a bassist, a drummer. There’s no gimmick going on here, no “This is going to change rock music forever
” stylings that seem to need to happen for a modern rock band to break through the fray. What is special about Wunderhorse is that they seem to rely solely on their songwriting strength to make incredibly good and interesting music, which should not be a marvel concept, but has somehow, at least for this writer, become just that.
Now that’s not to say there is anything straightforward or even really traditional about Cub
. There are certainly some of the tiniest post-punk leanings that peak through, as is seemingly to be expected out of every British rock export these days (“Teal” has all of the good of that style with none of the annoying). There is also a strong 90s alt rock influence, along with some early 2000s alt/indie rock stylings and grunge, all of which has been put through a sort of a Neil Young lens. Wunderhorse recently opened for Fontaines D.C. and Sam Fender and his music falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Only two songs actually break the four minute mark and you’ve got your fair share of mid-tempo rockers mixed with a few slower, more atmospheric songs that make strong use of Slater’s voice, which seems to be able to mold like putty no matter what kind of style he’s singing. Wunderhorse have developed a sound that is certainly their own, creating a level of consistency that sounds like them without all blurring into one big blob of rock.
If this all sounds reductive and lacking in description, that’s because it is because I have somehow forgotten how to just appreciate music. The goal for me (and many others, it appears) seems to be wanting something that be described with hyperbole, to be searching for the big new sound, the thing that no one has ever done before. To be fair, I think that Wunderhorse is well on their way to all of that, but the reason why they are on their way isn’t because of fanfare or some crazy new technique or any idea the music world has never seen - It’s because they make music with the typical instruments that they are able to turn into very good songs. “Purple” is maybe the best song I’ve heard this year and if you ask me in real life what I would likely tell you is it’s because I like his voice and the guitars sound nice and it’s catchy and some of the layers that happen are really cool. Doesn’t that work? Do you need me to say something more than “This is a very good song and you should listen to it and maybe you won’t like it, but that’s ok I’m happy you tried.” So, I guess, read that sentence. That’s how I feel. “Cub” is good because it is enjoyable to listen to and I hope you also think that but no problem if you don’t.