Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Wise Blood - ID

Expectation is a bad thing. Problem is, we can't shake it, can we? You fall in love with something so much, it begins to take on a form not its own. Try to think differently, and you'll find yourself simply going back to your original thought because you can't escape how excited you really are for whatever it is you're looking forward to. That's how I felt before listening to Wise Bloods, ID

Unfortunately, I am a big Wise Blood fan. I say unfortunately because I don't like talking smack about the bands I like. But ID, Wise Bloods first album, knows it wants to sound similarly to their previous work, but almost fails to do so. You see, Wise Blood relies on loops, beats and samples to create a sound that is truly unique. It's at once poppy, then hip-hop-esque, but not genre defining, which is something I always liked about them. They're their own sound, and that's something that anyone and everyone strives to find in todays' musical world. But when you lose sight of that uniqueness, things start to fall apart.

"Rat" and "Routine Reality" remain my favorite tracks on the album because they embrace what I've come to expect with Wise Blood. They're fun, and are full of his trade mark usage of great samples mashed together to create an almost drug fueled atmosphere. Even a song like "AMC Loews Waterfront", which I would say is almost a full blown reggae song, works because it still shows his flair for the bizarre with the different uses of samples throughout. I might also add that he must have envisioned himself living on a tropical island while he made this album, because another track, "0.01$", is as Jimmy Buffet as you can get (That's also my second Buffet reference in two reviews, ugh), but does so with a freshness and style I wish he continued to embrace.

"Target" remains the most puzzling track on the whole album. If I heard out of context of the album, I almost would have sworn it wasn't Wise Blood I was listening to. It sounds like a pop song from the late nineties, which, honestly, wasn't an era of music I embraced. I get trying to do something different, but when it almost erases all the hard work you did in the first place to make the sound you have, it makes you cringe a bit.

Other tracks like "Spider Web", "8 P.M - 10 P.M" (A 'instrumental track') and "11 P.M - 1 A.M" (Also a 'instrumental' track), feel almost lazy and uninspired. While "Spider Web" does have vocals in it, it's more of a filler track, which is glaringly obvious. I know an album can't be comprised of hit after hit, but when it stands out as a track that is meant for nothing more then to fill up time, it gets no love whatsoever. And "8 P.M - 10 P.M" and "11PM - 1 A.M" just don't belong in the album. Wise Blood has done 'instrumental' songs before (I say 'instrumental' because it's still only samples and loops), but these just don't stand out with any samples worth noting. It's just noise to me really, and that's a problem, not only with the continuity of the album, but with the overall product as well.

Thankfully, the opening and closing tracks ("Alarm" and "Consumed", respectively), remain strong, giving the album a good bookend. "Consumed", being the favorite of those two, made me wish he did more songs like it, adding a tribal-choral flare that is singular to Wise Blood. 

After listening to the album, I came to the decision that I really enjoyed 7 out of the 12 songs in it. Problem is, the other 5 songs just fall so flat for me, and come at such inopportune times in the album, that, as a whole, it never gains enough momentum to last as an album. But as stand alone songs, those 7 are marvelous examples of what Wise Blood is capable of, and what creative musicians like Charlie Laufman (The sole member of Wise Blood), can make in todays cluttered music environment. ID is a chaotic, worthwhile listen. - Shane

The album is also available to listen to online, which you can check out here:

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