Wild Pink make music for the road. Their new album immediately strikes a pastoral tone, with driving guitar leads accompanying vocalist John Ross’s soft-but-passionate vocals to huge, rousing moments. In the vein of War on Drugs, or Amen Dues (but even diving into a bit of GY!BE guitar magic), the group seemingly just strums harder or yelps with a bit more intent, however, these moments are transcendent, diving into the soul and making one believe in the magic of life again.
Many may roll their eyes at a comparison to the likes of Mumford and Sons and other foot-stomping commercial stuff from four or five years ago–and with their gauzy guitar clouds the group certainly crafts a more ageless, mature world–but Ross’s voice in another context could certainly border on adult contemporary, singer-songwriter stuff. Not to mention the plainly wholesome life-isms scattered throughout the lyrics: “I hope we find peace” on There is a Ledger; “love is better than anything else” on Love is Better; and “I don’t know what happens next” on All Some Frenchman’s Joke. Yet, the band avoids heavy-handedness in the way they construct their tunes.
On first glance, Lake Erie comes across as a chugging Americana jam, but the sweet slide guitar comes in only on occasion and the chorus doesn’t exactly broadcast itself, seemingly just stumbling out of the imagery that Ross crafts in the opening verse. “I don’t know why but it seems like there’s a reason for it all” pops up after the dust settles post-guitar solo with Ross laying into a slight decline in tempo. It’s these little details that add a sense of delicacy and maintain the tasteful aura.
The core of the album comes on “The Seance on St. Augustine St,” a six minute anthem spawned from a prodding slow bass intro, before Ross sneaks in his upper range. The tempo speeds a bit gradually before a rather sudden shift on the entrance of the lyric “they can’t help me now,” which becomes a refrain alongside the most towering guitar work on the album.
It’s fair to say that much of the album addresses the lessons you learn in the late teenage to adulthood years, when many people loose track of the community who have surrounded them throughout their lives. Here, the band fearlessly faces down this future, powerfully capturing their ethos.