When was the last time you encountered an album that not
only was great from start to finish but actually took you on a start-to-finish
journey? In this ADD-soaked, iTunes-centric era, you’d be forgiven for
supposing that the art of the album was, in fact, a dying one. But it’s not – not if you have a little patience and a willingness to trust the artists
Witness Wiretree, who on their self-released sophomore
release craft a deliberately immersive pop sound while navigating a circuitous path
through nine (or ten; see below) tunes that, though wonderful as standalones – read:
downloads – let their plumage unfurl fully via their proximity to one another
and as a precise emotional sequence.
Don’t misunderstand – highlights are indeed highs, frequently as brightly-hued as
the proverbial rock’s rich tapestry they reference: summery, sexy “Information,”
with its jangly, New Order-goes-powerpop vibe; the glockenspiel/keyboard-powered
“Back In Town,” whose buoyant harmonies further suggest a mashup of the La’s,
Beach Boys and Springsteen; the thrumming, Beatlesque “Rail,” with its
overtones of “Get Back” leavened by rootsy, Rockpile-styled twang (hold that
thought: frontman/multiinstrumentalist Kevin Peroni’s at times a dead ringer
for Nick Lowe, vocally).
But as each song gives way to the next, that journey quality
gradually emerges as the record’s greatest strength. For example, it’s subtle,
but telling, how the ending note of “Across My Mind” synchs melodically with
the opening note of next tune “Back In Town”; the lilting Big Star balladry of
“Falling” is quickly followed by the aforementioned “Information” jangler,
essentially illuminating the pair’s shared powerpop DNA. The album ultimately
steers towards an inspiring conclusion with a pair of anthems, one upbeat and
subtly orchestral (“Luck,” with hints of Crowded House), the other more yearning
and contemplative (“Heart of Hearts”). But wait – following a half-minute
silence, an unlisted final track cues up, an earlier Peroni-recorded version of
“Falling” that, with its fully fleshed-out arrangement, is the grand yang to
the earlier “Falling”‘s fragile yin. It makes for a striking, and effective,
coda that’s guaranteed to leave the listener eager to replay the album.
Credit Peroni for most of this, of course, for Wiretree’s
unquestionably his vision; in addition to writing and arranging all the
material, he plays most of the instruments here. (On selected tracks members of
the touring Wiretree appear: rounding out the band are Rachel Peroni on bass,
Joshua Kaplan on guitar and Daniel Blanchard on drums.) And clearly, the
creation of a discrete artifact was part of Peroni’s vision. Call me old
school, but by my way of thinking, the notion of the album isn’t outdated. Not yet – not in the hands of a talented
outfit like Wiretree.
The Austin-based group, incidentally, came to my attention
via BLURT’s “Best Kept Secret” program, and in an interview with Peroni I
observed how as a music journalist one of my greatest pleasures is
encountering, out of the blue, a band and a sound that leaves me smitten. One
of my other greatest pleasures can be
more fleeting: determining at a subsequent date that my initial impressions
were not unfounded.
proves that none of it was a fluke. Hell, I’m the one who’s lucky.
Standout Tracks: “Back
In Town,” “Information,” “Falling” (demo) FRED MILLS