Review of Life Of Pause Album by Wild Nothing

Whatever the handle, be it called dream pop or chillwave, recent fascination with the apparently disposable culture of the late twentieth century has known few boundaries since it emerged towards the end of this millennium's first decade.

Wild Nothing Life Of Pause Album

Wild Nothing is Jack Tatum and vice versa: live it/they are a real band, but with Life Of Pause we get to focus on the results of a creative process involving just him, himself and him. Having taken almost four years to follow up his previous album (The well-received Nocturne) it might've been possible to hear the sound of either a new, suspicious radicalism to his work, or alternatively old ideas being stretched too thin. Instead however the Virginian has not only uncorked a fresh set of vintage inspirations, but notably upped his song writing game too.

This obsession with the infancy - and innocence - of the first digital age and it's frequently unprocessed emotions has previously captured the imagination of outfits like Foster The People, Cut Copy and Neon Indian to name but a few. Such has been the glut of material in fact that the reality for Tatum was that he needed to burrow himself into an elevated space to differentiate, one which in the  discovering he uncovered a new realm of authenticity and fresh sense of purpose. This redemption came in the form of working with Devandra Banheart producer Thom Monahan, whilst an inspirational spell in ABBA's old studio offered validation to his muse, proving one man's restlessness is sometimes better than four people's compromise.

Whereas Nocturne seemed to be wrapped tightly in its own dreamy aesthetic, here Tatum conjures up a more substantial, deeper vibe, especially on  the Britpop mining Japanese Alice, a song full of peak Albarn in his tracksuit and oi! period, whilst the propulsive marimbas and choppy guitar of opener Reichpop are a nod to the much admired avant-garde composer Steve, couched in the guise of its warmly repetitive phrasing.

It's a slightly obscure reference on reflection, especially given that so much of Tatum's work is here is rooted in the orthodox, but even when he strays into the territory of others - closer Love Underneath My Thumb could be easily mistaken for the neo-psychedelica of Tame Impala -  there's still an eking out of finer grain. Elsewhere, he's in truly imperious form: on the title track the keening synth riff and time-worn verses are pristine and soulful respectively, combining for possibly the most straightforward and accessible Wild Nothing work ever written. Momentum like this is hard to stop thankfully and there are further bulls eyes with both TV Queen and Whenever I, but the gold medal winner here is To Know You, which despite bearing a passing resemblance to Talk Talk's It's My Life takes the normally cautious romanticism of his work and throws it up onto a canvas as big as the evening sky.     

Having just your conscience and the voices on the tape for company can be a lonely place, but Jack Tatum has managed out of this solitude to invoke artists like Paddy McAloon and Mark Hollis, ones who lived both inside and outside the last century's naïve and cynical constructs whilst making music which devotedly mocked them. Life Of Pause is his finest album yet as a result, a trip which hugs you back and one which deserves to establish Tatum as one of the moment's most intuitive talents. Far from pause him, it's should be the first act of putting his career and life on fast forward. 

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