Brooklyn duo Wildlife Control are something of an anomaly in this world of indie music and blogging. They live a continent apart and create music by digital correspondence before really hammering down the few times a year that they end up in the same zip code. Oh, and they are brothers.
Think of all the duos you can pinpoint in the current music scene; most of them rock hard, such as Japandroids, or maybe they lean more toward the electronics and synthesizers such as Seatraffic. What about when a band takes indie rock and cross pollinates it with some of the catchiest pop sounds around, smooths out the burrs and adds in some steady and effortless vocals?
Wildlife Control impressed the fickle blog world with their track “Analog or Digital” and the incredibly ambitious video that accompanied it. After their next release Spin, the internet seemed to really take notice of the band. While proud to have been on the bandwagon from the first note, I was still a bit shocked at their sudden rise. Ultimately though, what wasn’t to like? The songs were relentlessly catchy, the sounds upbeat, and the vibe infectious. The question was when will get a full length, and can it live up to what came before it?
Hype is a treacherous beast.
Wildlife Control is a ten song pop rock odyssey; from the beginning notes of “Brooklyn” the path is laid out before you. I’ve listened to “Brooklyn” for two days now, and it’s rapidly approaching being my favorite Wildlife Control track. So soon? Yes. It’s the brothers’ anthem to the city, and before you think “Empire State Of Mind” I will lay down this wisdom.
Brooklyn produces a huge variety of music every year – you need only look at the submissions on most of the popular music blogs to find that 65% of those are from Brooklyn, LA, or Austin (or so it seems). It’s a massive melting pot of styles, ideas, and inspirations…Wildlife Control’s “Brooklyn” is the paint on that canvas. The band melds everything from your 80’s pop to 90’s rock and 2000’s glossy production into one seamless exercise of musical devotion.
You get a little whiplash from the second track as the band throws it’s first head fake. “Darkness” is a mood piece that lulls you into thinking the brotherly duo has flipped the script into a darker turn, only to seamlessly flow back into their own brand of a pop opera musical. It’s charming and the message feels very authentic. I’m not gonna mince words on “Analog Or Digital”. It was the first single, sold thousands of folks like me on the band, and will continue to drive fans toward Wildlife Control with it’s patented eighties meets nineties lovechild sound. “Disguise” conjures up distant relations with U2’s “Mysterious Ways”. If you took that track and injected it with gorgeous piano and bass work that would’ve easily been at home on Common’s Be, you’d be in the ballpark of “Disguise”. I’m not implying it’s to be considered in the same breath as those hallowed beasts, only that the similarities are there and it’s pretty special. Outside of “Spin”, this is the most rocking track for my buck.
“Oakland” is bliss. Well, it would be bliss if melancholy sounds and some poignant piano notes equated being happy. Instead, you’ll have to settle for auditory happiness as you listen to the group’s ode to the Oakland Raiders last several years of failure. I may have made that last part up, but hey, couldn’t you see DA RAIDAHS running out onto the field during the pregame festivities to this track? If you were a fan over the last decade, definitely! “Melody” cascades through your eardrums with layered vocals and a hint of a tropical vibe. It has an obvious dual meaning and the sounds are very moving, but it doesn’t quite do it for me the way the rest of Wildlife Control does.
From the jump you know “Lose” is gonna do more winning than Charlie Sheen at the apex of his meltdown; there’s a sexy riff and piano work, held together by an incredible beat and tried and true pop vox delivery. “Tangerines” is a track that sounds best in the headphones. There’s tons of interesting sounds going on in each ear, providing entertainment and stimulating your mind. The sporadic inclusion of the synth is pretty boss. I could totally see this being remixed into an unorthodox club banger.
“Spin” has been my unquestioned favorite from this band’s catalog for a few months now. That awesome dit-dat guitar riff just makes it for me and the chorus is very easy to pick up. “Spin” is the hybrid child of a coffee shop and the club, fresh off to college. When the distortion picks up, Wildlife Control turns in the kind of noise production only a hero could. A hero or a shoegaze band. Or Wildlife Control, you know, cause it is their song. The closer, “People Change” is both clever and nostalgic. It makes me think of Motion City Soundtrack, but with a lot more bluster. While it is a poppy track, it has an edge that I can only attribute to the influence of the grit and grind of Brooklyn.
Wildlife Control is a pretty stellar debut. It’s really hard for me to believe none of us knew anything about the Shah brothers as little as six months ago. They know what works for them and they bend every rule they can to make these tracks as interesting as possible for the listener. I don’t know if I’m an idiot or if people hear other things, but it seems to me that the influence of eighties pop on this track really makes it’s mark and we are all the better for it being there.
When you hear this record you’ll be listening to something sleek and polished, prepared exclusively for your ears and feet to become attuned together with your soul in some blissful harmony.