It’s a point that’s been made before, but there’s a perfectly reasonable case to be made for simplicity in music. As much as dividing genres further and further down can create an invaluable niche for an act (when they’re not just simply convoluting their sound), it often feels like a lot are trying to run before they can walk, and so sticking to the basics and perfecting them feels like a much more manageable alternative. That’s the impression that The Wild Things give off, and while they have some increased leverage in terms of promotion that many others in their lane (vocalist Sydney Rae White has appeared in numerous BBC shows over the last decade plus), the onus has primarily been put on their music, something which they’ve achieved a lot of praise for in the past.
But that can also raise the question of what can be too simple in music, and with You’re Really Something, it feels as though if there was any less here, it would be a prime candidate to fall under that banner. Apart from some slight horn accents on F.I.A (and they really are a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it touch), The Wild Things have promptly avoided all bells and whistles with this album, and when it works well, the moments of straight-up alt-rock can capture a pleasing amount of scope and power. Tracks like Loaded Gun and the title track are probably the best at this, for example, avoiding narrower genre confines for big-hearted, wistful rock tracks that feel borderline timeless in their execution, thanks to the benefit of lacking more harshly-defined boundaries, while Devils Witness is a bit more gruff with a stomping indie-rock influence that really benefits it. And it’s not as if the lyrics are bad either – straightforward rock like this has always relied on a broader lack of detail – but it does hit a high point when White shows off a more vulnerable, emotional side, like the realisation of a relationship that’s never going to pan out on Better Off Alone.
On the other hand though, that song in particular will most likely be one of the moments cited for You’re Really Something’s biggest shortcoming, namely that its straightforwardness is very capable of tipping over into flavourness without much effort. It doesn’t help when the two acoustic tracks Waterfall and Better Off Alone are placed in succession (a dip in momentum only lengthened with the middling Tell Me Why preceding it), but it’s easy to see how a lot of these tracks can come across as middle-of-the-road very easily. Instrumentally, it’s all very pleasant with few instances that see The Wild Things really go for broke – something that a very conventional, colourless production style doesn’t help with – and while the homegrown quality that seeps through can rectify that a bit, it’s still an album that can be a bit listless at points, maybe too much so.
It’s not to an intolerable degree, and far bigger bands have made albums with less of interest than this, but with music and especially alt-rock being more competitive these days than it’s ever been, it’s worth thinking whether this will be enough for The Wild Things going ahead. For now it will be, but You’re Really Something can only rely on a decent use of limited resources for so long before The Wild Things need to shake things up, and when the time comes, that will be a desperate need. Still, for something that’s easy to get into that isn’t a demanding listen at all, this does a lot right.
For fans of: Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, The Gaslight Anthem
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘You’re Really Something’ by The Wild Things is released on 23rd November on AWAL Records.