Shadow Band Loves The Wilderness
Shadow Band‘s first full length combines folk, psych, indie pop, and that certain sixties flair that makes their tones warm and their melodies full of hooks. Wilderness of Love is equal parts Comus, The Beatles, The Animals, and Temples–its melding of styles creates a listen that is as cohesive as it is surprising. Shadow Band has made an album that alludes to the classic sounds of American folk n roll.
The opening track and the following single land heavily within Beatles worship territory. Jangling guitars riff under melancholic harmonies. Eschewing the upbeat-pop feel of The Beatles (like “Help!” or “Hard Day’s Night”) for spookier and darker tones, Shadow Band differentiates themselves from the scores of Beatles’ faithfuls. That the album spins darker is a part of its strength. “Endless Night” is a ghostly howl that stays stuck in your head for days–not a bad way to start the album.
But Wilderness of Love is far but a twist on the Brit pop sound. It’s grooves light upon other influences, keeping the record from being a rephrasal of one sound. Some songs (like “In The Shade”) unfurl at a glacial pace–eking every bit of tension from their slow moving melodies. Other songs (like “Shadowland”) spin like slow homages to fellow rockers, Temples. Whatever cue the band takes for their sound, their whimsical and dangerous lyrics twist and turn the tone to be completely theirs.
And no where is this more apparent than “Eagle Unseen.” The just before mid-point track is one of the heaviest songs of the album. Shadow Band’s front man slurs in a baritone that calls to mind “Riders On The Storm.” Tambourine and flutes give the track hints of light in its swirling darkness. The layers of all these elements come together to create a track that is folky but rocking, worldly but centered in the climes of the band.
The back half of the album continues the slower tempoed trend of the first half. This might be the only misstep of Wilderness of Love. From start to beginning, the album doesn’t turn or subvert the structures with which it began, giving itself a plodding end. That said, Shadow Band’s sound is full of great hooks and subtle guitar work.
Concluding the album is the track “Daylight.” One of the more straightforward folk songs, “Daylight” offers a slight contrast to the rest of the album. Reverb-drenched vocals float above a finger-plucked guitar for a sound that is uplifting in its sadness. The final song informs the rest of the album. “Daylight” implies Wilderness of Love is a night journey, full of uncertainty. By the time the album spins its last, its listener can truly say they went through the way in which are not.