American Wolf - Myriad
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Record Label: Self Released
Some records are all about the atmosphere, the feelings they evoke or the events they soundtrack. American Wolf’s Myriad is one of these albums. The Chicago band don’t concern themselves with the small details, they aim for massive, epic landscapes, mysterious atmospheres and everything that’s a little bit hushed. Myriad’s nine tracks are perfect for relaxing and for escaping from the day to day struggles, not because they’re easy to relate to, or because the singer knows exactly how you feel, but because it’s pretty and because within moments of placing your earphones in, the world you live in is stripped back and built anew again. American Wolf create music that distracts you, and sometimes that’s all you need.
American Wolf’s sound is very much resting in the aesthetic. Sounding a little like a darker version of Beach House, the record is grounded in a bed of subdued, attractive vocals, whimsical instrumentation and poetic lyrics. “A Dark Matter” starts off procedures with a jazzy feel. Its relaxed guitarwork and steady beat lends itself to quietly leading the listener into the album and sets up a chilled up platform for the rest of the tracks to build on. Build on it they do; sophomore track “Mahrz” continues the carefree vibe of the opener and adds to it a sense of franticness by taking on beautifully epic chorus-type-thing-that-isn’t-a-chorus, which is subtly catchy. “Skin Tight” is also superb. The vocals are more comprehensible than previous tracks, and whilst the song is grounded in atmosphere and prettiness, there is a hint of just straight up catchiness to it which makes the track a little bit special.
Musically, American Wolf are what would happen if Ellie Goulding fronted Beach House and they listened to too much of The Cure. The androgynous vocals are wonderfully soft and complement the haunting tones of the individual tracks perfectly. At times, they lack distinction and get a little lost amongst the album’s sonic landscapes, but on tracks such as “Open Me” and “Mother”, they’re just perfect. The instrumentation is wonderful throughout the release. The band have the ability to know exactly when is the right the time to enforce hushed tones and when to turn it up to eleven, and this prevents the album from ever getting boring or mundane - the band know exactly how to hold a listener. The only major flaw the release has is its tendency to lose focus occasionally. Certain tracks. “Letting You Out” being a big example, seem to run over longer than they probably should and it feels like the band are just dragging the track out for as long as possible. This has a pretty negative effect on the entirety of the song because after a few minutes, one may find themselves reaching for the fast forward button.
Despite its occasional flaw, American Wolf’s Myriad is an excellent album. If you like your dream pop to be a little less fluffy, or you’re looking for something to soundtrack 3am in the morning, Myriad is the perfect record. I certainly look forward to hearing more from these guys.