You know, in an era dominated by a progressively boundary-free musical landscape, where pop, hip hop, rock and dance music congeal in ways that can seem indistinguishable from one another, sometimes it’s nice to hear a wooly rock band making songs that reach for great heights, but sound refreshingly grounded. That’s Wilderado. This is the sound of their aptly self-titled debut by the LA by-way-of Tulsa, Oklahoma quartet.
The record kicks off with an astral backing track before a loping riff kicks in. Then you hear the melodic vocal of lead singer & guitarist Max Rainer. It’s hook city: “I'd really like to meet you/‘Bout a dozen times a week/Yeah, I'd really like see you/Walking up and down my street/ left California for a bigger slice of cheese/But I would have waited for you if you didn't want to leave”. It’s just a hooky, irresistible track that seeps into your subconsciousness long after you’ve stopped listening to the record.
“Astronaut” has the same new wave jangle that would not be out of place on an early Strokes record, while “Head Right” has an on-point propulsion that would find itself on a soundtrack of a teen-centric movie in ’04.
While Wilderado has plenty of not-quite distant throwback qualities to their songs, there are truly provocative moments - like the bubbling, subterranean sound of “The Worst of It”, a song that couples slick synths and a nervy riff that meshes wonderfully with Rainer’s vocal. “The Window”, is also worth a mention here as it plays on this with its show stopping piano and slow-dance guitars.
There’s plenty to like on Wilderado. It’s a record that’s so dynamic, plainly enjoyable and devoid of flavor-of-the-moment production styles that unmoor it from the era we are in. They’ve made something sound durable and lasting without the fuss that it takes to reach that sound. It’s a rare trick, but one they’ve mastered.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media