A three-piece who act like a ten-piece, the Wharves make lush psych-rock with plenty of that stuff we like to call fuzz. They've got the same full-bodied vibe contemporary psych acts have been touting, but they also owe a lot to '60s pop and '70s prog, making them a bit new and quite old. 'At Bay' is their debut record.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 29 October 2014
A cinematic prog-pop record that sounds in love with about five different types of melodrama -- from the pastiches of early Fairport Convention to the star-gazing guitars of post-rock, from to the huge vocal chants of Vangelis to the keep-on-keeping-on twee pop of Hospitality, from psych to folk, from here to eternity -- 'At Bay' has a lot to unpack. Of course, it doesn't unpack it: it's produced to be too much, frankly, bellowing its feelings and ferocity down to you from the high ground, every aspect of the record happening in one crashing tandem. That's what's exciting about it though -- tracks like "Turtleneck" would be pretty standard indie pop cannon fodder if it weren't for the way the band twist the knife half way through, swapping their Sleater-Kinney guitar interplay for a total shift in key -- actually, with the gruesome guitar tone they start playing in, it sounds like they're throwing away the key and locking us up forever -- the vocal harmonies they've been swept up in suddenly sound impossibly evil.
'At Bay' is the kind of record that sounds instantly familiar for a hundred reasons, comparable to pretty much everyone -- like, even the Strokes, because that hooking riff on "By Hook or By Crook" sounds totally NY basement -- but so full of each influence it climbs out of the tributes and makes something at least sort of new. Through all the tricks, the Wharves are guided by strong vocal harmonies -- usually two-part -- which make the record weirdly punk rawk; they're proficient singers, but their careless and brittle execution of gives 'At Bay' its gravitas. For such a well made record, it sounds like a day's work. What a short, strange trip it's been.
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- At Bay by The Wharves
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