by Eli Shively (@shivelyeli)
In 2017 it’s easy to feel as though the reality we live in is slowly unraveling right before our eyes. The former host of a popular reality television show is in the Oval Office, temperatures in February hit the mid-70s in the northeast, and beloved musicians and entertainers are passing away at an alarming rate. Faced with this sheer madness, the youth of America has spent the past couple of months coming to a terrifying realization: this is the world they are inheriting, and it’s up to them to somehow see to it that we’re not all doomed. Wild Pink’s self-titled record is an album about this feeling. It is an album about trying to figure out where things went wrong.
Trying, figuring, and contemplating; all of these verbs could be used in discussion of this record, as the lyrics reflect an overthinking introvert’s painstaking mental gymnastics. When John Ross sings about attempting to “understand the culture in my face” on “Great Apes” or realizes that “there’s no war that’s left to win” on “Battle Of Bedford Falls,” it’s hard not to wonder alongside him. Sharp, purposeful lines like these seem to be grounded in a very real place in Ross’s mind, the kind of arresting thoughts that automatically stop you in your tracks just to bask in their weight.
Given the power of the record, alongside its sometimes ominous tone, the line “Why would you have a kid/ When the city you live in will be underwater soon?” from “Broke On” comes to mind. It is a good thing that the mellow, fuzzy production is there to soften the impact when things have the potential to get to overblown or melodramatic. Ross’s steady and dreamy vocal delivery layers itself perfectly atop the instrumentation, his imaginative brooding naturally melding with the music unless the listener is paying purposeful attention.
The interplay between music and vocals speaks to the normalization of such heavy, reflective thoughts. Whether it can be attributed to coming-of-age or the internalization of the Camus-esque “absurdity of the world” is unclear, but Ross’ musings hit you with a sort of endearing nonchalance that just feels right. Wild Pink draw heavily from late-90’s indie rock and slowcore — early Death Cab For Cutie, Pedro The Lion, and even Modest Mouse can be heard here and there; these bands aimed to give life and character to the painfully mundane.
What Gibbard and Bazan did for lonely college kids spinning records in their bedrooms can be likened to the voice Ross gives to the confused and concerned young adult of the modern age, attempting to not get left behind in a society that seems to be making less sense by the minute. Despite its anxieties and various nostalgic hang-ups, it’s a much needed breath of fresh air that puts just about everything on post-grad America’s mind front and center. Many searching for a warm, vulnerable slice of guitar-powered warmth to sink into this spring will need not look further than Wild Pink.