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Album Review

by Wild Nothing

Captured Tracks

Review Date
31st May 2010
Reviewed by
Paul Gallagher

There's something to be said for nostalgia. No doubt a familiar tale for many a young musician, the leafy suburbia of the university town of Blacksburg Virginia has proven to be a hot house for the mind wandering search for inspiration and thought provoking exploration that has produced the wonderful Wild Nothing. If you can imagine a loitering scene of scattered cassettes, records and a shitty amp surrounded by stale poster plastered walls and a 4-track hiss, then you may be able to conjure the airy new wave aesthetic that Wild Nothing is dripping in. 

For a man barely old enough to buy liquor in his native country, Jack Tatum has a well-rounded and grounded perspective of alt pop music's lineage through the 1980s, early 1990s and its far reaching influences upon records from more recent hours. His is a petri dish growth of a miracle drug - from the glory riffs of the Smiths, to the freak ensemble pop of Ariel Pink, with the spirit of Shop Assistants, Orange Juice, even Stereolab and the overbearing glow of the Cocteau Twins, Tatum's is a frank and honest lyricism reflecting the domesticity of life and the romanticism of an every day existence. 

Many might know Tatum's reputation for his 2009 take of Kate Bush's Cloudbusting - an earnest, yearning cover released as a 7" that set the bar for other nascent artists throughout the rapidly expanding lo-fi scene. With that in mind it's not too hard to describe the rattled drum machine awnings and treble glow guitar riffs that hold these tracks together, accompanied by slight synth arrangements and fragile vocals. Summer Holiday (already released as a 7" on Captured Tracks) is an obvious highlight, tracking the youthful innocence and terror of blossoming love. The Cure-esque portrait of Confirmation portrays some level of syrupy heartache which perfectly matches the excess and decadence seen elsewhere in the album. There is also escape on Gemini in which Tatum stresses his desire to be left to his own devices - within Chinatown (my favourite track of the album), Tatum sings 'you're not happy until we're running away, clouds in your eyes'.

This is not just a bedroom solo pop project from a hipster who knows how to handle his synth. This is a remarkable homage to all Tatum holds close to his heart, an amazing testament of talent from a man not just there to fill a fanboy's shoes but to take on the stature of an interpretor. It is appropriate to imagine Wild Nothing as a shuttered film camera among a host of digital cohorts - his is a task of capturing a fraction of history, not just recording a disposable and pixel-driven moment in time. 

Jack Tatum's world isn't particularly dark but it is nonetheless real. There's a fondness and a confidence in colour and in happiness. Wild Nothing evokes a trust in the sunlit corners and the bicycle runs of tree-lined streets, a comfort in suggesting that if something isn't broken then it doesn't need to be fixed. Some might call that an ignorant take on the world, but with so many musicians seemingly focused on more negative aspects of life it's a relief to find one determined just to keep on keeping on.  

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