This Wild Life – Clouded
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Halfway through the year and it’s already been a huge year for This Wild Life – and the real fun is just getting started. The band has worked with Aaron Marsh, signed to Epitaph, will be on Warped Tour, and played on The Bachelorette (meaning even my sister has now heard of them). To top it all off, the band has crafted an incredibly impressive debut album with Clouded, an album perfect for upcoming summer nights.
It’s been awhile since an acoustic pop-rock band has really floored me. It’s a tricky game to play, as there has to be the perfect amount of intricateness – vocally, lyrically, and instrumentally – in a stripped down environment. It’s an oxymoron that can be hard to master, but This Wild Life have done just that with Clouded. Vocalist Kevin Jordan’s voice is powerful enough that he doesn’t need to sing loudly to be heard – his skillful range makes every poignant and instantly relatable word ring through. While Jordan also helps out on guitar, Anthony Del Grosso mans the reigns there. His guitar works serves as the backbone for every song, controlling the tempo and core of the music. To top it all off, the two add in some other instruments to the mix as well, such as the violin and piano that add further layers of depth to “Better With You.”
The entire record is as honest as an open diary, discussing love and relationships, loss, and moving forward. However, what really makes lines stick is the carefully crafted delivery. On “No More Bad Days,” after Jordan softly sings, “But every door that’s closed / Opens a new window,” he takes on a higher octave to follow up with “No more bad days / It’s clear from here” to really drill in the point. His pace then speeds up, as he sings of the better little things. Such meticulously executed structure is hard to come by, especially in acoustic pop-rock songs. Every word has a purpose here, with Jordan’s range being an instrument in itself. However, this definitely works both vocally and musically. “Roots And Branches” has Jordan is in full spotlight crooning, “But I don’t feel that anymore,” but before he continues, the guitar steals in to amplify the weight of the follow-up line of “I feel nothing at all” before cutting out again to allow the question “Am I meant to be alone?” to hauntingly suffocate the air.
Perhaps it’s the more lackadaisical moments on the record that really prove how impressive the guitar work is and how much it adds to the songs. On “Looking Back,” the guitar dances around airy and upbeat vocals, getting your foot tapping right along. Even as early as the opening “Concrete,” you begin to notice this, as the guitar during the chorus is as equally memorable as the words. Moments of layers and intricacies like these wouldn’t shine through without the production work, proving that Marsh was the perfect man for the job.
Listening to this album reminds me of the feelings of hearing The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most or Sunsets and Car Crashes. It’s been too long since we’ve heard a great acoustic album where the vocals, lyrics, and guitar work all work to complement the other parts perfectly. On Clouded, This Wild Life achieve just that, resulting in what will end up being one of the most impressive debut albums of the year.
Great review- not sure how to judge this album. It was definitely a pleasant surprise and, as Thomas said, great melodies (like a cross between City and Colour and Go Radio). At the same time, I feel like the songs start to lag after a while due to a lack of variety, which sucks that the record is only 10 songs. Nevertheless, a really strong debut and I'm excited to see where these guys go next.
This is something I would have eaten up my freshman year of high school, and that's not a bad thing.
i was really disappointed when i listened to this today.
i hadn't listened to this band since Heart Flip (dug the record but thought the acoustic stuff was too prominent). i saw the Epitaph signing, read from some people that the new stuff resembled Third Eye Blind. i was expecting a little pop-punk or 90s alt rock influence with the acoustics ... not a full-fledged acoustic record that sounds pretty damn similar like the last half of Heart Flip..
don't get me wrong. the songs are good, but the style gets boring to me... very quickly. i guess i was just hoping that they'd balance some rocking stuff with all the acoustic pieces.
Bound To Break is my favorite from the record. I think that song would translate better electric.