Just after 10pm, Wild Nothing take to the Opera House stage with no time for talk as they get right into “To Know You” from the latest record, Life of Pause released in February. Bellowing synths and cascading guitar reverb wash over everything as lead singer, Jack Tatum, introduces a new-ish, more direct kind of sound. Make no mistake, the ambient nature of his lush arrangements from Gemini (2010) and Nocturne (2012) remain intact, but this time around, Wild Nothing shows signs of evolving past the height of pure shoegaze-scene wonderment that was popularized during the latter 00s.
Tatum and co. play through most of the new album, churning out renditions of “A Woman’s Wisdom”, “Alien”, and “Whenever I”, some of the most captivating new tracks he has come out with. As mentioned, the new work is more direct, differing from past cuts that found strength in their haze. Playing through these new songs live, there is a clearer goal for Tatum, especially in singing with stronger vocals, as if the lyrics which have never mattered much in Wild Nothing compositions, hold renewed importance.
The crowd is especially excited to hear old favorites, “Live in Dreams” and “Summer Holiday”, which fit in well with the new material just fine, and by “Only Heather”, everyone was moving. Unlike previous Wild Nothing shows, this one’s goal appeared to balance contemplative atmospherics, and songs that engaged the crowd on a more relatable level. It is likely for this reason songs like, “Reichpop” and standout track “TV Queen” appeared later in the show, nudging energy past bedroom pondering, toward something that resembled arena-level anthems—at least, Wild Nothing’s version of an arena anthem.
“Thanks for coming out. Sorry, I don’t feel like talking much tonight,” mentioned Tatum towards the end of the show, “I hope you won’t hold it against me”. It appears no one did, as they were called back to the stage with an overwhelmingly warm demand for an encore, which they obliged, “You guys are the best. We’ll play a few more for you”. They closed out the show with a great performance of “Shadow”.
Wild Nothing haven’t made huge strides in changing up their sound, but they haven’t had to. Life of Pause is Tatum’s answer to the question, “after two albums, what now?”. The new material takes advantage of unfamiliar sounds the band haven’t relied on before and raises the importance of vocals for the sake of being innovative while not straying far from their unique selling points. For instance, the vocal work on “Whenever I” draws similarities to Andrea Estelle’s on “Blush”, by Mr. Twin Sister, a band who have dealt with a similar transition. This is a step for Wild Nothing, as they continue carving their own brand of atmospheric pop, on their own terms.