The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
2. Midnight Song
4. Through the Grass
5. Only Heather
6. This Chain Won't Break
7. Disappear Always
9. Counting Days
10. The Blue Dress
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Listening to Nocturne is a lot like looking through a telescope. You see, Wild Nothing’s sophomore record revolves around a lunar theme, so the idea that it relates to astronomy is quite apropos. Each song is designed to mirror a phase of the moon, and one quick look at the track list finds songs that can be matched up with lunar themes like “Shadow,” “Midnight Song,” and “Disappear Always.”
Here’s why the album is very much like looking through a telescope: what the listener finds is entirely based on mood and preference, and there are distinct phases to the listening experience. Do you remember in school when they brought in that giant inflatable bubble and showed you the constellations and talked about astronomy? It was pretty much the highlight of elementary school, and then everyone wanted his own telescope to view the stars at home. Listening to “Shadow” captures that initial excitement, as it is quite the exciting track. Those who like indie rock that doesn’t cater to the Pabst Blue Ribbon crowd will be at home. Wild Nothing has a sound that is steeped equally in the post-punk and shoegaze world as it is in the 1980s. Jack Tatum loves his synthesizer and hazy vocals, but thankfully he knows how to write a song as well.
The problem lies in phase two, where the initial awe wears off. Do you remember when you actually looked in a telescope for the first time? You had no freaking clue what you were seeing, and when you finally calibrated the view correctly, you grew bored rather quickly. This second stage parallels the listener’s experience with Nocturne over a few listens. Wild Nothing tweaks the band’s sound throughout the album, but it never quite re-captures the magic of the first track, at least in the first couple of listens. Songs like “Nocturne” can easily put one to sleep, so the FDA requires me to warn the listener to not operate heavy machinery while listening for the first time.
Thankfully, the third phase is what happens when experience and the right mood meet in perfect harmony (“Kumbaya” anyone?). There are quite a few interesting subtleties that allow Nocturne to be rather interesting on repeat listens. Jack Tatum definitely knows his way around a hook, as “Only Heather” makes me want to find my own Heather. Later on “Paradise” is music to an indie fan’s ears. In music, there are albums that are showers, where the music is great from the get-go. Then there are those albums that must grow on the listener. Nocturne is one of those, as the melodies and music patiently weave their way into the listener’s brain. Wild Nothing has written a very fine pensive indie rock album, but it is only for those times when staring at the stars seems enjoyable.