At the beginning of 2023, I went through a bit of a thought experiment. I imagined that I had the power to call forth a new album from any band of my choice. What band would I choose? The two names that came foremost to mind were Wild Nothing and Ice Choir, both essentially pseudonyms for single musicians who make immaculate sophistipop (Jack Tatum and Kurt Feldman, respectively).
I’ve learned that although Kurt Feldman is working on some new music, his love for complex and time-consuming video games means that any kind of release may be long in coming. However, Tatum hadn’t been heard from since the Laughing Gas EP dropped just on the eve of the Covid pandemic and its forced isolation. Since Wild Nothing typically released something every few years, it was about time for a fresh batch of tunes in some form. I was beyond excited a few months ago to hear that indeed, a new album entitled Hold was on its way in October of this year.
As is the fashion nowadays, singles from Hold slowly dropped ahead of the release of the full album. The second such single, Suburban Solutions, caught my attention — quite literally — for its catchy hooks and oversized ambitions. One line has Tatum singing “take a big bite” with a multitracked pitch-shifted echo effect, sounding a lot like a snippet from one of the more stylized Peter Gabriel (one of Tatum’s heroes) songs. It’s a bit of a gamble and one that may turn off some purists, but it has its own unexpected charm once you get over the shock.
The song and accompanying video comes off like an ad for a fictional do-it-all service called “Suburban Solutions” that aims to solve your problems — provided those problems are the result of living among similar houses with well-manicured lawns on uniform tracts of land. The video production is made to look like a relic from the Reagan era, a suitable vehicle for an eightiesphile like Tatum. It’s purposefully kitschy, more than a bit tongue-in-cheek, and a lot of fun. The line about taking a big bite is paired with footage that looks like it came from a nostalgia-producing Burger King ad. The effect of it all is distinctly Wild Nothing, which is certainly a compliment.
For bonus points, check out the third single from Hold, “Dial Tone.” It’s been reviewed as having a bit of the Cure in it, but I noticed that it sounds startlingly like “Fixed” by Stars. So, if you are into either of those bands, it’s worth taking a listen.
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