THE WLDLFE Is Not Worried Anymore, And Here’s Why
Anyone acquainted with the blog and my work likely knows about THE WLDLFE. I have reviewed two of their albums (I guess we should change that number to three now), featured their singles on numerous separate occasions, and consistently endorsed them when questioned for a notable local artist out of Indianapolis. So you probably already have an idea of how I feel about their debut LP, I’m Not Worried Anymore, which just released on the final day of August, and I must say you’re not wrong. Let’s actually take the time to break down what that all means though.
With each successive release, the quintet continues to improve upon the quality of their craft, both in their songwriting and their production. Overall, the tracks sound tighter and more polished than I have ever heard from THE WLDLFE. In many ways, the sonic aesthetics of I’m Not Worried Anymore feel right on-par with any big name indie pop act, which is rather impressive for a band’s debut full-length. That obviously is due in part to the diligent work of producer Jonathan Class, who delivers once again on this newest project.
The band continues with the sound they are very much known for on I’m Not Worried Anymore—from the fun, surf-like groove of the opener “Addicted” that harkens back to “Somebody’s Gonna Love You” to the powerful “Don’t Tell Me What I Want to Hear” that starts with a steady stomp before everything comes to head near the song’s end to all four of the singles released in advance of the album’s August 31st launch. Yes, even the lone single I did not cover previously, the feel good jam “Real Ones,” seamlessly blends guitars with keys. In a similar vein, many of the tracks culminate with a bridge, like the roaring guitars of “Dream, Pt. II” or the dramatic synths of “Lacy, Take a Break.” This time around, however, the keys feel more intricate than they have been on past releases, and the sound itself feels fuller and more complete. Something tells me that this step up in songwriting can be attributed to the recent addition of multi-instrumentalist Carson Hogan.
To me, Hogan is the band’s secret weapon; while his older brother Jansen is the face and voice of the band and the whole reason why they all came together in the first place, Carson plays the yin to guitarist Jason Boucouras’ yang, and he does the exact same thing with his brother vocally. For instance, on the ebbing banger “Lacy, Take a Break,” the Hogan’s share vocal duties, and while each of them complements the other harmonically, it is the uniqueness of Carson’s singing on the second verse that really makes it stand out. With “Lacy, Take a Break,” it’s almost as if the quintet is priming the listener for the other Hogan, as he completely takes over the lead on the following tune. The longest track on the album, “Notch” also peaks on the song’s bridge, but all throughout this tune it feels particularly special, both musically and vocally. As much as I love Jansen’s voice, I can understand that there’s a certain characteristic to it that may turn some people off from the band, but with Carson, that is simply not the case.
I’m Not Worried Anymore has plenty of ethereal moments, many of which are subtly packed in with the rest of the instrumentation, while the moments of intensity are done tastefully and in the right context. At times these two paths of “ethereal” and “intensity” intersect, and this is where the band truly thrives: “Headache,” “Dream, Pt. II,” “Notch,” “Don’t Tell Me What I Want to Hear,” and even “Lacy, Take a Break,” are all proof that the indie pop collective may have found its sonic sweet spot. The more “chill” moments like “Towel” and “June” don’t ever come across as out of place or ineffective, making it hard to find tangible weaknesses with this record, and with a debut this strong it’s just as hard to imagine how the quintet isn’t as big as their big name counterparts yet, or at least well on their way to that.