I've been intending to write about this rather special submission I received for nigh on a month now. Alas, silly season is in full swing as year end lists bewilder the mind with their sheer depth and Christmas songs jostle for attention like eager kids in line to see the local mall Santa.
I digress. The reason for this text is to introduce you to a cracking independent release. To introduce you to Toronto's Wildlife and their, well, striking new album Strike Hard, Young Diamond.
Kicking off with the rousing Stand In The Water, there are elements of Arcade Fire, Sunset Rubdown, and numerous other indie luminaries lining up to advise the pounding rhythm section,
MP3: Wildlife - Stand In The Water
Spencer Krug projects come to mind once again on Sea Dreamer, with that slightly off-kilter sound packed full of rolling guitar crescendos proving particularly satisfying. Fittingly for the aquatic/beach related titles
When I Get Home switches thing up a tad, with more of a classic Britrock drive to a song that tears away, briefly nodding at a tired looking Fratellis before charging off into the distance, bound for its own destination. It's especially encouraging as it shows the band can apparently flick the rock switch at will, altering the pace of Strike Hard, Young Diamond early on and to great effect.It all ends in a glorious cacophony of guitars, before fading out into the more reflective Drunken Heart. Again, the tempo change feels natural and the slight melancholy of the song contrasts well with the rapture of the tune prior.
MP3: Wildlife - When I Get Home
Brand New Weapon speeds up proceedings once again. The singing takes a shade more of the focus here, allowed as it is to breathe by the more subtle instruments twisting underneath it, where previously their pure energy demanded the attention. The breezy melodies aren't lost, however, and a pleasant comparisons to stars of 2010 like The Morning Benders and Surfer Blood can certainly be drawn by the atmosphere Wildlife stir up here.
Matches provides another upbeat bounce of a track with an irresistible chorus, as does Move Into The City, an album highlight, after the more sombre American Eyes has run its poignant course. A mesmeric, experimental edge permeates Killing For Fun, with bursts of orchestral noise, light brass sections, and backing vocals ranging from choir-like to screaming bloody murder in the distance. It's a intriguing way to close the album, alongside Out which is essentially a stripped down, brief reprise of the Stand In The Water.
For all the comparisons made in this here rambling, the reality is that Wildlife are one of those bands that only remind you of their similarities to others in short bursts. They have so much at work on Strike Hard, Young Diamond, and glue it all together so well, that any touch points are referenced only for us listeners to attempt to get a handle on the release as a whole. It's a sweet, sweet moment when a submission warrants this level of investigation.
I've gradually enjoyed this album more and more for the last month and feel rather confident that it would have bothered my top 30, had I cottoned onto it earlier in the year. It matters not, though, when you get to enjoy it but simply that you do. At a time when aging musicians lament the state of the music world and question whether new generations will even have an appetite to create, Strike Hard, Young Diamond is a vibrant shake of the senses that answers such doubts with youthful exuberance.