The Wild Things
PHOTO CREDIT: Marcus Maschwitz
I Think You Can Do Better
The track, I Think You Can Do Better, is available via:
The album, You’re Really Something, is available via:
23rd November, 2018
WE are coming to the end of the year…
and there are some late charges for the ‘album of the year’ title. Most artists bring out their records during the spring or summer, if they want to make a big impact, but you do get some good ones later in the year. I will talk about release dates but, when thinking about The Wild Things, I will cover sounds and the variety that others lack; female-fronted bands and, again, the talent that is out there and not being represented; a bit about fun and adventure in music that elevates it from the stale and ordinary – I will end by assessing The Wild Things and why they have so much potential. It is interesting looking at albums and when an artist releases them. It makes sense to release them in the warmer months because, psychologically, we are in a better mood and temperament and that can have an effect. For mainstream artists, they sometimes time their releases around award ceremonies or so they do not clash with another big act. A lot of times it is about scheduling and when albums are ready to go but, if you look at the best/best-received albums of this year; most of them pre-date, say, the start of this month. The last couple of months of the year do sometimes see great releases but most tend to come before the late stages. I am not sure whether one can track this through every year of music but, largely, artists are putting out their records before the weather gets too savage. The reason I mention this is because it is always good to have something to look forward to, musically, that isn’t Christmas-themed. I have digested all the brilliant albums that have arrived this year – from IDLES, Christine and the Queens and the like – and you have only the inevitable slew of Christmas-themed songs and carols to ‘look forward to’. I like the classics like anyone else but do wonder why musicians tend to go quiet at this time of the year – whether they feel people are not in the frame of mind to give them full attention.
The Wild Things, happily, have brought us some late-November treats. Rather than have to suffer some Christmas album by a celebrity; the world gets to experience a fresh and original album that has the bones and front to challenge some of the established order. I know the guys have been concocting and formulating their material for a long time and this was the right time to release the material. A lot of the songs that appear on You’re Really Something have a vibe that would not sound out of place in the summer climbs. There is energy and vibrancy to be found and I think it is a masterful stroke releasing the record now. We get to experience something genuinely warming and uplifting and, at the same time, witness an L.P. that makes a late bid in terms of the best from the underground. One of my biggest gripes, when it comes to albums of the year and the best out there, why unsigned and lesser-heard artists are not included in the remit. I know I am wandering a little off topic – I shall find my map and wander back onto the path soon! – but this year has seen some fantastic albums from smaller artists that can ably challenge the higher order. The Wild Things’ album is the result of Syd, Cam; Rob and Pete working their bottoms off and putting their everything into the final result. The sensations one absorbs whilst listening to the music is hard to describe and it is a masterful work – as I shall explain a bit later. They have made a great decision releasing the album now because we have this brilliant and bold album to enjoy and it puts them clearly in the mind as we look to 2019. Because the album is box-fresh; one excitedly wonders where The Wild Things are going and where we can catch them on the road. Look at their videos and you get so much imagination and brilliance. One will have their favourite cuts from You’re Really Something and wonder if these songs will be released as singles. In essence, you have this band who are ending the year with a bang and, in doing so, getting many lips wet with anticipation. Festival organisers will be looking and I predict next year will be the biggest for the London-based foursome.
PHOTO CREDIT: Marcus Maschwitz
Like Piglet leading Winne the Pooh home after he’s had one too many dips in the honey jar – it’s early so you’ll allow me some odd deviation! – I have talked a lot about that one subject but it was interesting to me so it is something to consider. Let us, instead, investigation variation and soundscapes in albums. This is something I get obsessed with and wonder whether there is an argument for artists taking a closer look at someone like The Wild Things. You get albums from artists big and smaller that have an identity and original voice but, a lot of the time, the music sounds rather one-dimensional and unadventurous. The tracks have different lyrics, of course, but the sonic impression is very samey. If it is a Folk album then you might get a lot of the same calm; Rock albums with the same riffs and speed and Pop records that are either relentlessly introspective and anxious or imbued with empty cheer and sugar-sweet sentiment. One wants to discover artists that can push things and show a bit more diversity. It is not betraying your vision and voice by mixing emotions and providing the listener with something broader. What has ruined a lot of potentially potent albums this year is the absence of colour and spark. If one looks at a song like I Think You Can Do Better – or the album itself – then you can detect a band who have a real ear for sound and mood; they can keep things fresh and enticing. Flesh & Bones is a different beast to Loaded Gun; Devil’s Witness and Where Flowers Grew protrude from different soil. Each song is incredible and full but you do not get the same aesthetic and mood with each. Lesser acts would simply alter their riffs or add in little details and not really expand their horizons. Whilst You’re Really Something is not as bat-sh*t-mad as The Beatles’ eponymous album in terms of its sonic leaps and variety; there is plenty of range and wonderful moments that keep things thrilling and fresh. More musicians should take note!
PHOTO CREDIT: Marcus Maschwitz
This sense of adventure and confidence, so early in a career, could come off as ambitious and ill-conceived if the band did not have the fortitude and chemistry to back things up. It is the closeness and communication within the band that means they can take these big steps and have great ambition. Beside the fact Cam and Syd are siblings; you have a tight and democratic band that have a lot of affection for one another. Too often, one person’s vision dictates things and you can get a rather one-sided and samey sound that is being directed by a single voice. There is fun and friendship within The Wild Things’ camp and that translates into their music. Syd might be the lead voice but the guys each have a say and there is a lot of trust to be found. Because of this, you have songs that sound organic and thrilling; each player puts their all into it and the band has that common objective. They want to create music that is distinctly them but does not stand still on the same spot. The Wild Things can mix softer and more emotional moments together with bigger, bold tracks that show their teeth and rip your knickers off. They can also stretch out instrumental moments and toss in some big riffs; a few nice little kicks here and there to bring us heady, colourful and unpredictable music. I have not got the time to give the album a proper review and do it justice but, having listened to every song, I can attest to the fact it is one of this year’s best records and wins you over from the first listen! The guys have played sold-out shows and big venues like Islington Academy and that experience and reception they have gained means it goes into the music – unafraid and confident to put their vision and true selves into the music. The fans have given them love and passion and the group have grown in confidence as writers.
PHOTO CREDIT: Barney McCann
I will talk more about the exceptional sounds and originality of The Wild Things but their biggest asset, I feel, is having Sydney Rae White as their lead. That might sound insulting to the lads but, with her acting experience and range – dramas and comedies like Uncle mean she can bring that into the music – you get this in every song. A fantastic and natural actor; White has that advantage with regards story and plot in tracks; she has a naturally wide range and brings physicality to every track. A lot of musicians are able to act but, as an actor, White brings something extra to the party. Not only does she have a full emotional and sonic locker but her personality shines through. I find a lot of all-male bands rather charisma-free and you often do not get a lot of interesting vibes at all. White stands out because of her humour and charm. She is engaging and funny on social media; has a girl-next-door look but, actually, there is proper spunk and toughness in her heart. It is a wonderful blend that is not faked or put on for effect – this is a real star and someone whose personality and easy appeal is not the only bonus. Listen to the way she sings and how she emotes; the sheer confidence and passion put into every line and how she makes you feel. A talented musician who can write stories like no other...someone who leads the band with grace and fire. The rest of the group, of course, are no second fiddle but the fact they have a female voice at the front is their biggest strength. Look at the recent announcement regarding Leeds and Reading’s headliners for next year and there are four male acts! Not only is the quality rather dubious but there are no women to be seen. I fear Glastonbury will make the same mistakes and I wonder why, time and time again, there is that reluctance to hire female headliners.
There is no rational reason behind the decision so it seems ‘tradition’ is the only answer. We have great female-fronted bands like Wolf Alice but there are a slew of great female solo artists – from Pop acts like Lorde and Dua Lipa to Beyoncé and St. Vincent – who could do a wonderful headline set! I feel, personally, women are leading music and producing the best albums. This quality and talented is not being rewarded with a chance to play the biggest stages. The Wild Things have ‘headline slot’ written all over them and, whilst it is too soon for them now, there will be the time when they are primed and I wonder if festivals will respond. I am seeing so many brilliant female artists coming through and I do have the concern that they will not be taken seriously. Syd White is someone who can own a stage and has as strong a voice as any man in music! Maybe The Wild Things will get a Glastonbury call in a couple of years but the band have the potency and talent, soon enough, to be considered for the headline slot. I feel someone like White has a much more appealing and intriguing personality than most out there – I have just thought of another diversion, if you will allow me a few moments?! I will finish this section here but, on the subject of female performers and potential, there is that star quality around Syd. I have been musing why there has never been a biopic made about Madonna. I am not sure whether White is a fan but, in terms of looks, she has a Madonna vibe. White’s personality does not have the spikier nature of Madonna – perhaps that is why something has not been brought to the screen! – but there is that same sort of stature and interest. I look at her and you have someone who gets into the heart. Similar to Mads; Syd has that ability to switch genres and guises easily; there is a fashion edge – an artist who can adopt different looks and rock them all – and a natural human who can win you over because they are so much more than all over musicians out there – they have, as I said, that star quality. As much as I’d like to see White as a Madonna film version – whether she is even a fan of her music – my point is you have someone can own the stage, win over minds and warrants headline attention. Alongside the band, we have a wonderful, complex and easily loveable artist who can pave the way for other women in the industry.
PHOTO CREDIT: Martin Allen
The cascading and flowing guitar notes that open I Think You Can Do Better remind me of the great acts of the 1990s. There is something a little Britpop about the opening notes; a sense of classic and familiar that is put through The Wild Things’ prism. Rather than race in with something too intense and fulsome; they guide us with this evocative and cool sound. Just as you feel the song will carry on the same lines and explore the guitar sound more; White comes in with the song’s title. There is a bit of American accent with the delivery and it is almost like a Californian teen telling her friend she could do better. That mixture of 1990s Britain and Californian-American gives the song these two sides that work together really well. In fact, when the band step out and the song bursts into life, you get these two sides combining into something really strong and intoxicating. The strings and beats stagger bite and snarl and you, again, get a lot American influence. The riffs are intense and the entire band combines in this thrilling and addictive sound. Before the vocal comes in, you have been captured by this exhilarating and thrill-ride smash that will move the body and get the head nodding. There is a heroine that is skipping down as a form of redemption. Things that make her scream are, according to White, better drowned and ended – so that she is clean and renewed. The use of language and imagery makes me wonder what the story is. Maybe there has been a bad relationship and this toxic bond and, rather than confront it, the heroine is fleeing and feels she needs to get away. No names are mentioned but I get this instant feeling something destructive has played its hand. Lyrics of burning houses and salting the earth builds on that destruction and loss but I wonder if it is purely about a relationship. One can interpret the words as a heroine getting away from a bad guy and ensuring that rotten flower does not re-bloom but I wonder whether there are wider considerations.
PHOTO CREDIT: Marcus Maschwitz
In these tense and uncertain political times; you can look at the lyrics and the song’s title and feel like it is a shot against those who hold power. Maybe there is an aspect of the destruction leaders cause and how they are leaving everyone high and dry. This might be me over-reaching but I got visions of our P.M. and Donald Trump and how they have sort of screwed everyone. Going back to the relationship side of things and, although there is a lot of bad mojo and poison memories to expunge; White performs her vocal with great consideration for story and impact. She is never too heavy-handed and intense; she has plenty of rawness but you can feel some sympathy in the mix. I love the physicality and energy of the track and how the band manages to keep things sparkling, hot and kicking. The idea of doing better, at first, seemed to apply to a bad boy and someone destructive and, next time around, seems to look at an inexperienced suitor and someone who is not as confident as the type of men the heroine is used to. At every stage, it appears the heroine is making mistakes and not doing herself justice. White brings in some cackles and laughs that add yet more colours and personalities into the song. She manages to mix straight delivery and seriousness with humour, oddity and layers. The song has a distinct story and sense of drama – many songwriters write in a flat way and would perform a similar song with very few original ideas (like The Wild Things do). The chorus – burning houses and salting the ground – seems to be this mantra and addictive coda. It is quite intense but has a singalong quality and melody. More and more, the political side comes to my mind and I do wonder whether The Wild Things are assessing leaders and what they are doing to the world.
“Take what makes you scream...” is one of the standout lines of the album and has this catchy and classic vibe. I mentioned embers of the 1990s before but there is something vintage – in a good way – when you hear The Wild Things. One gets that classic and brilliant sound that seems to be lacking from a lot of music. Everyone will have their own vantage point and view of the song but I feel I Think You Can Do Better is a shot against leaders and those who make decisions but has its roots in a bad relationship. Maybe it is taken from personal experience but the openness/oblique nature of the words means everyone can make their own mind up. On first listen, you are caught by the addictiveness of the song and what the lyrics mean. You go back to experience that hypnotic chorus – and see if there is any fresh revelation – and you will keep spinning it to get to the bottom of things. I was caught by the sheer quality of the song. That might sound insulting but I mean it sort of pops and settles right away. It is one of those complete songs that could have been taken from any classic album of the past. The authority and confidence the band put out is amazing and there are plenty of other examples on You’re Really Something that have the same sort of beauty and brilliance. I wonder whether others will take away the same impressions and feelings as myself or interpret the song in other ways. I went straight back in and was minded to think more fully about the political and social aspect of the song. Perhaps there is this concern regarding the state of play right now and how we need to rise up. Certainty, few can say those in power are speaking for us or doing a great job and I do wonder whether, in fact, there needs to be this people’s movement. There is a lot to take in and weight up and that is the beauty about a Wild Things song. I Think You Can Do Better is a fantastic cut from a remarkable record.
I have talked a lot about various aspects of The Wild Things and the only reason I highlighted I Think You Can Do Better for special consideration is because it’s my favourite choice. Tell Me Why and Better Off Alone is great but, true, every one of the dozen tracks is great. It is hard to pick favourites because of that consistency and natural brilliance and I know how hard the band has worked on the record. You’re Really Something is an epic record that is one of this year’s best and I am fascinated to see where the band go next. I have been following their singles and looking at how much hard work they put in and I do hope as many people as possible listen to their album. Going forward, I think next year will see big festivals and gigs come their way. It is a great time for them and, with the album the band has laid down this incredible declaration. I have heard some brilliant mainstream albums this year but not so many from newer acts. That is not a slight against them but there has been little that can rival the best from the big guns. The Wild Things, in November, have put out this wonderful album that can proudly sit alongside treasures from the heftiest names! I shall wrap things up in a second but wanted to end by congratulating the band on their development. I came across The Wild Things a couple of years back and knew, then, there was something about them. It is always hard knowing if a band will go on to great things that early and last but I had an inkling. A number of factors have been behind this longevity and evolution. You have this very tight band of friends who have been with each other for a long time and there are no egos in the ranks. The fact they are all so close and have endless respect for each other means the music is a lot more engaging, appealing and nuanced. I think The Wild Things will go on to some very big things and I hope a headline slot awaits them! There are problems with the industry and it needs to be addressed. If you need a great record to end the year with an explosion then you need to get involved with You’re Really Something.
PHOTO CREDIT: Marcus Maschwitz
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