Album: "Low Tides"
Release Date: Sept. 9
Label: Epitaph Records
This Wild Life went through a substantial identity change in 2014, moving from a pop punk band to an acoustic rock duo in their album, “Clouded.” With their latest album, “Low Tides,” the duo have gone through yet another change, evolving their soft and simple acoustic sound into something more full and complete.
The album begins with vocalist Kevin Jordan softly singing out the words, “Hit the reset, I’m starting again/ I’m in the thick of it, does it hurt a little bit?” This is a very fitting start, as it’s accompanied by ambient electronics and a muted beat from the drums, two things that weren’t present on “Clouded,” which was almost entirely acoustic guitar. Just as they did in 2014, This Wild Life has hit the reset once again and to answer Jordan’s question: It did hurt a little bit, but it didn’t hurt for long.
With an up-and-coming band like This Wild Life, there’s always the worry that they will change their sound to be less unique in order to appeal to a broader audience, and that is what seemed to be happening at the start of this album. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that the band fans have been following is still very much alive, just with a fresh coat of paint.
“Low Tides” keeps the soft, catchy sound and acoustic instrumentals that This Wild Life established in 2014 but adds various layers onto it that change from song to song.
On “Pull Me Out,” subtle ambient keyboard notes provide a backdrop to Jordan’s vocals and guitarist Anthony Del Grosso’s acoustic chords. This is an example of a song that, without the keyboard, could have been a song on “Clouded.” However, the small keyboard addition makes it feel like a more complete sound.
“Break Down” is a similar story as it takes elements of the slow, sad ballads the band has performed previously but with hints of piano and horns to add flavor. The following track, “Let Go” takes this a step further with a full band set-up that includes acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonizing background vocals and a chilling guest appearance from Maya Tuttle of The Colourist. Tuttle’s section of the song is timed perfectly, and her voice flows with the structure of the song, making it one of the strongest on the album.
In addition to instrumental enhancements, “Low Tides” sees Jordan taking his vocal talents to new heights, which is especially apparent in the next two songs, “Just Yesterday” and “Fade.” In both of these songs, Jordan uses a falsetto style in his vocals that harmonizes beautifully with a violin and acoustic guitar backdrop. This makes for a pair of songs with a sad yet pleasant tone that works well.
This new style that is present throughout the album hits its height in “Falling Down.” This song starts out slow and soft like many of the songs on the album, but around 20 seconds in it erupts with a catchy melody and a far more powerful sound than what the band is known for, making for an exciting twist in the album.
While the remaining three songs begin to sound a bit repetitive in style to the rest of the album, they still have elements that make them unique, especially “Change My Sheets,” which uses subtle electronic beats in place of guitar for much of the song.
While the album is a step forward for the band in most ways, there are some problems that still remain. Some of the lyrics in “Clouded” came across as a bit sappy and cliche, and the problem didn’t get any better in “Low Tides.” While there are a few songs with memorable lyrics on the album, the majority of them are fairly predictable and lack creativity, which is why I give this album a B+. While the new style works well, this album does start to get old towards the end, and the songs can be somewhat hard to differentiate.