Welcome to my first official album recommendation. I have so much great music I want to share with you, and I decided to start with my favorites. Once I work through my all time faves, I’ll be working through my personal record collection, and then through my Spotify library (which will never end). I’m listening to new albums everyday and always discovering fantastic music that deserves recognition.
(this isn’t even half…)
Jack Tatum formed his indie rock/dream pop band, Wild Nothing, in late 2009 in Blacksburg, Virginia. He has since released 2 full-length records, “Gemini” (2010) and Nocturne (2012), and two EPs, “Golden Haze” (2010) and “Empty Estate” (2013).[i] All of which have been deservingly critically acclaimed. Now, I recommend giving all of these projects a listen, but if you can only choose one, start with “Nocturne”.
The genre in which this record is best categorized in my opinion is dream pop. Dream pop is often described as lush, dreamy, smooth, icy, washed out, etc. The reason being that the genre characteristically uses a lot of reverb in the mix to create a wet and vast sound.
The following is my description of each track. I don’t plan on making all of my recommendations this long, but this album is so special to me that I just had to give you a short description of every song in the hopes of enticing you to give this record a chance.
Strings fade in and the song explodes with a driving hook. The strings sink lower into the mix and the guitar lead just holds onto me in such a gentle caress, like everything is going to be okay. The bass dances joyfully with the drums, and the strings come and go from the centre of attention to the back smoothly without fight. Tatum’s voice is whispery and lush, soaked in reverb. His words sing of forbidden love. “I’d go with you if you asked me to, but we wouldn’t get too far. Two strangers in the dark.”
The guitar lead is icy and wet with delay and reverb. Tatum has a real skill for writing catchy guitar parts. The drums pound away in a simple beat, the kick is deep and the snare is punchy. The reverb makes them sound like they were recorded in a big hall. The lyrics are as cold and dark as the music with expressions of sorrow and longing. “In my head you dance like the wind. You’re my burden.”
My favourite song on the record, and it’s also the single. The guitar lead just hooks me right in and I drift with it into a blissful abyss. The drum beat and bass are simple and nostalgic, and the synthesizer bring us back to 1986. The parts layer so smoothly with elegant subtlety. Tatum sings beautiful poetry about surrendering to love. He displays a little more range in his vocal capabilities as he fluctuates between a soft high voice and a deeper chest voice.
Through the Grass:
This song is gentle and ghostly. Every line he sings during the verse is repeated by his voice sounding further away as its heavily drenched in reverb. An acoustic guitar is featured in this song and it brings a nice contrast to the cavernous sound of the rest of the arrangement.
The song’s introduction builds from what sounds like a recording of an orchestra tuning played backwards (I have no idea if that’s what it really is, but that’s what it makes me think of). This song is faster paced that the songs before. The drums and bass are driving, and the guitar is picked quickly and elegantly. Behind this arrangement is a beautiful lush sounding synthesizer pad. It’s subtle but it really holds the song together in my opinion, as it fills up any potential silence. Tatum sings a rather straightforward love song here, and the chorus is quite catchy: “Only Heather… Can make me feel this way.” I’d love to meet her.
(artwork that came with my vinyl copy of “Nocturne”)
This Chain Won’t Break:
The song opens with a loud, hard-hitting drum pattern and a gong breaks in on the 4th beat of every second bar. This song is rather heavy on the synthesizers as there is many different synthesized textures layered one on top of the other. This is especially the case during the bridge. I really lose myself in these sounds as Tatum sings, “All these faces. All these faces. Well they look the same.”
The guitar lead in the beginning of this track is fantastic. It seems to come out of nowhere at first listen, but then I realize there’s nowhere else this melody can belong but right where Tatum placed it. It’s short and sweet, and it’s the reason I always revisit this song. The song also has a killer guitar solo near the end. I can really relate to Tatum’s words in this song as someone who deals with depression and anxiety, I’ve felt the loneliness and seclusion he expresses in this song. “This house is now a grave. I’ve been sleeping here for days. I’m too hidden to awake. So I disappear always.” I fucking love that lyric!
Now, when this song opens, I swear this is an 80s ballad. The synth pads just make me float, and then the guitar comes in, and that tone… I wish I could replicate it on my guitar. The drums and bass keep a rock solid rhythm going throughout much of the song and soften out during the interlude. The interlude features an oscillating synth texture that sounds like wind recorded under water. “Tell me once or twice that love is paradise. Love is paradise”
I love the synths in this song. There are so many different layers. The most ear-grabbing one for me is very percussive and staccado (you’ll recognize it when you hear it). This song has a very melancholy tone: “It’s cold in your bed and those flowers have long been dead.” It’s as though Tatum is a ghost speaking to his grieving lover.
The Blue Dress:
The bass runs and drives the song as the leads come and go as they please. Tatum adds many pieces of sweet ear candy throughout the song. The words long for a love too good to be true: “And then I dreamt of you so sweet. In the garden of my touch. Drowning into sheets. Imaginary love.”
The album comes to a close with this track. The synth echoes and weeps, as the guitar condoles. The bass and drums keep a steady rhythm and support the many layers above them. Bongos are featured on the closing of the song, which adds a pleasant and tasteful touch. The lyrics a little more abstract, dark and cold: “Touch me one last time. I don’t want to remember this life.”
So that’s my (very detailed) recommendation. Please, please, PLEASE! Give this album a shot! Let me know what you think. And let me know what you think of this article. If you have any recommendations for me and want to hear my thoughts of something, don’t be shy!
Thanks for reading.