Review Summary: No hay banda
A distinguished gentleman named Sunnyvale had this to say in Sputnik’s discussion thread for Wisteria Lodge’s first release, their 2022 self-titled EP: “it coasts a bit on atmosphere”. Well, plot twist
, I am Sunnyvale, and my initial judgment was right. Another plot twist
, Wisteria Lodge are back with their debut full-length, and they’ve doubled-down on this tendency.
sees eleven new tracks join all five songs from the group’s EP to form a nearly fifty-five minute record. If anything, the Oregon band’s dependence on VIBES
is more complete than before, with much of the previously-unreleased material being even more unassuming and often interlude-esque than the EP tracks were. Indeed, the EP’s works stand apart here as more clear-cut and memorable moments. Most would probably assume from those statements that this means Spoken Secrets
is a small bundle of quality tunes padded with fluff to complete a full-length record, but that’s really not the case. In fact, the opposite is true, and this format seems to produce maximum effect for Wisteria Lodge’s music. Amid the near-ambient sparseness of various shorter tracks, the more prominent melodies of songs like “Curtains” or the beautifully Gothic “Mercy” are compelling, while a tune like “Magdalena” possesses a bewitching groove. Meanwhile, even the most restrained instrumentals serve a purpose: while “Omen” is soothing enough in the abstract, in reality it feels more than anything like the setup for a jump scare, adding another texture to the album’s overarching sense of the unsettling.
More on that - the best adjective to describe Wisteria Lodge’s style is “Lynchian” - AKA pursuing the form of a David Lynch work. The band makes no secret of this (one of the tags on their Bandcamp profile is “Twin Peaks”, as just one example), and it works. There’s an eerie and ominous feeling which overtakes nearly every track on Spoken Secrets
, regardless of the specific musical style at play. Feeling like Mazzy Star taking a weird turn and then soaking in the influences of performing in a faded blues or jazz club, Wisteria Lodge have already found their sound, and Spoken Secrets
sees them taking the next step towards perfecting it. An intriguing nocturnal mood awaits.