Wanderwild is the brain child of multi instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer Matt Martin. Almost every sound on the six track début is made entirely by him and when you hear a whole band playing, it’s amazing to think it’s effectively one man.
The pop rock upbeat “Optimist” opens with a fun chorus, a shuffling rock beat and a simple guitar melody. It’s the kind of rock you want when you’re driving alone with the windows down on a day towards the sunrise. There’s a muddy grunge to the instruments and that transitions to what I call a “Cocteau Twins” guitar that takes over for “Evergreens” that spends its time changing the volume of instruments so that for the chorus its the drums and vocals that push forward and the guitar returns for the verses and codas before becoming a small summer stuff anthem. “Misty Morning” takes a country approach with acoustic guitars, finger picking and soft keyboard backgrounds. The way the music swells over them course of the ballad makes it my standout track of the EP. It balances a sort of naivete in some of the melodies but Matt’s voice and the strings scream sombre thoughts at you too. It’s really quite emotive.
“Glow” see’s the mix of everything before reach a thematic and sonic culmination. It’s rowdy and glorious, celebratory and self referential. Other tracks get mentioned in the lyrics and everything has that shoegazer under control feel to it guitar wise. “Natural Desire” is recorded like a demo with just a guitar and Matt’s voice. It sounds like you’re in the room with him and has all the lower bass sucked out so it’s airy and emotive as he declares “I’ll give you everything” and moves effortlessly into an aching falsetto. It comes full circle though as the echoed “La Mer” rounds off a tidy EP with plenty of reverb and soft but fast percussive loops. It’s where the EP spends the most time in a lush pop ambience and plenty of high register singing floating over the top. It works beautifully and feels like the EP sets sail into the distance as a farewell.
For a one man début, this EP is a fantastic example of Wanderwild’s creative palette. There’s variety, style, catchy melodies and enough depth here to keep himself from getting stuck in that pop/rock trade off many artists go for. Here there’s style and substance.
Recommended track: “Misty Morning”