I’m very comfortable around people. I love people. But, without showing it, I’m ashamed to admit I can also get a little star struck from time to time. If I were to stumble upon said star, inside my head I wouldn’t be able to help but think, “They actually know Bradley Cooper,” or “They wrote the song I moonwalked to in my underwear this very morning.” My star struck condition is less of an intimidated paralysis and more so this kind of wonderment at someone I largely respect.
So, when Toronto-based band Wildlife – of which one of my oldest friend’s brother and cousin are members – finished a fall tour with acclaimed indie rockers The Wooden Sky and starting working on another multi-faceted rock album, the more I listened to them, the more I found myself getting weirdly star struck by a group of musicians I actually sort of…know.
The first time I saw these guys play in a dive bar (where they covered “Dancing in the Dark” as part of their finale – extra four points in my books), I didn’t know if my friend’s brother’s band would be any good. I mean, sometimes it feels like everyone’s sister, uncle and pet ferret are in bands and you’re obligated to go. But Wildlife was different.
On “Born to Ruin,” the digital download they sent out two nights ago to promote their forthcoming sophomore album On The Heart (February 26th,Wax Records) they’ve never sounded more unified. That’s saying a lot for a group known for their cohesive harmonies and rambunctious, hook-filled instrumental jams that send happy tingles down your spine. The most intriguing part of their tasty rock repertoire is that the tracks are undeniably infectious – and on “Born to Ruin,” stadium-ready – without morsels of cheese or showing symptoms they’ll transition to synth-pop sellouts any minute now. Quite simply, these guys know how to put their voices, instruments and hearts together – creating a bold, but sincere, steadfast sound.
Like Wildlife’s other standout tracks, “Born to Ruin” swings forward with a thumping percussion and army-like vocal force hollering over this scorching guitar hook; a hook that’s so memorable and triumphant, it acts as the youthful battle call ringing intermittently throughout the tune. Midway through it all shifts, Arcade Fire-style, into a sunnier intermission featuring lead singer Dean Povinsky’s wail (“If you do my best, and I do my best, we can have it”), layers of that fiery guitar and a twinkling outro.
If you like this, check out “Stand in the Water” from their debut LP Strike Hard, Young Diamond – an equally upbeat, mood-lifting rock gem. Keep your eye on this Toronto force-to-be-reckoned-with as they evolve; I know I will – even if I become too star struck to look them in the eye while doing it.