Album number 3 from ambitious indie musician Jack Tatum, best known as Wild Nothing. Life Of Pause is a bold new collection, bringing in the likes of saxophones and marimbas to the melancholy smooth-indie mix. The result is a superbly textured, well produced record, each song full of layers to peel away. On Bella Union.
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After two sparkling albums of ’80s indie (‘Gemini’ and ‘Nocturne’), Wild Nothing head Jack Tatum has had to decide where to take his sound next. Though there’s nothing actually wrong in keeping things the same (Cleaners from Venus/Guided By Voices have always continued with the same general sound and it's not done them an ounce of harm), the music industry does like to insist that you make things bigger and bolder. If not done correctly this is where things can get in a muddle as was proved by the earlier ‘Empty Estate’’ EP which slapped on the synths rather too heavily.
Opener ‘Reichpop’ starts with some marimbas and just when you think Tears for Fears' ‘Pale Shelter’ is going to explode into life we instead get a jerky pop song with scattershot drumming and that left of centre feel of the recent Dutch Uncles album. The spiralling guitars and rhythms also bring to mind Talking Heads' ‘Remain in Light’. All the song really lacks is that killer chorus but it’s a pleasant wander nonetheless. It segues nicely into ‘Lady Blue’ and I’m pleased to see that Wild Nothing have retained the feel of their earlier work (melancholic English ’80s pop). It’s less ‘jangle pop’ and uses a wider palette of sounds but you’ll like this if you like Pale Fountains, Lotus Eaters.
As much as I loved ‘Nocturne’ it was a patchy affair and we have the same problem here. ‘Japanese Alice’ is Wire’s ‘Outdoor Miner’ - if Tatum's not already aware of that track he’s going to be horrified by what he has done. ‘A Woman's Wisdom’ is simply dull meanwhile the Ariel Pink/Ducktails crossbred title track is catchy enough if a bit fey. Tatum is much better when he goes back to the glistening melancholic pop of yore on ‘Alien’ and the deliciously hazy 'Adore' but frankly this record is a real frustrating listen. It certainly starts well and at least there are new ideas being explored but as the album wears on a mixture of badly tacked on ideas and dreary, derivative songwriting does for a large chunk of it.
File under: missed opportunity.
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