With a combination of pop/rock competence, young-gun oomph and
softly scuzzy attitude, Amazing Baby makes songs that are hard to immediately
tear apart. But Rewild, the Brooklyn band’s debut album, becomes strangely
unfulfilling after awhile. Although these songs might be made honestly — with
no direct intent to be homages or facsimiles — they all could use an extra
crackle of originality or personality. It’s a case where preternatural
professionalism isn’t enough.
Consider “Headdress,” a sharp-dressed glam-rock epic
that has spacey production and some kickass harmonized guitar riffs. Frontman
Will Roan’s vocals are perfectly breathy at times and reasonably Bowie-esque at
others. And the song clocks in at a well-edited 4:38. All around, it’s a
totally disciplined effort — but maybe that’s the problem. It never suggests
any kind of discomfort, and it never threatens to become unhinged.
Similar absences linger beneath Rewild‘s other cornerstones: “Invisible Palace” is a Pink
Floyd-ian display of bombast and galactic psychedelia, but it’s lacking a sense
of dread; “The Narwhal” recasts druid-folk without being trite, but
it’s more showy than clever; and the highly danceable “Bayonets”
mixes coolness and agitation the way Pulp does, but without the pointed
Maybe those shortcomings will fix themselves as Amazing Baby trots
these songs around the world, aided by online buzz and its connections to other
Brooklyn acts such as MGMT. Talented bands tend to fill themselves up without
even trying. But as a document of this Baby’s still-evolving headspace, Rewild is all about what’s missing.
Tracks: “Bayonets,” “Invisible Palace” JOE WARMINSKY