This is ground that hasn’t just been well trodden, it’s become ancient, and going into ‘Wonderlust’ means trying yet again to turn off any preconceived notions of what a band inspired by “‘90s indie rock” is going to come up with. For the most part, Kid Wave stay true to the genre - there’s the slinky, lulling guitars (‘; the whimsical and lethargic vocals splattered with melancholy - “some say dreaming is waste of time / I can’t get you out of my mind” Lea Emmery croons on stand-out single ‘Honey’, for example - and an overall lo-fi, sun-drenched sheen that of course nods back to the recordings of the day.
Kid Wave succeed the most when they go huge on the hooks and choruses. ‘Gloom’ for example is straight out of the Pavement textbook, but there’s a lush quality to Emmery’s vocal and a scale to the driving melody of it that makes it sound poised for bigger things, and there’s a moment of choral voices that ups the euphoria in a way The Pains of Being Pure at Heart regularly achieve. ‘Sway’, one of the album’s more tender tracks, nails that nostalgic feeling of longing for escape and hammers home the notion that this is a band dreaming of sunshine in even the gloomiest moments. With ‘Wanderlust’, Kid Wave are proposing a summer that lasts all year long, but they’re willing to enjoy a few nights of twilight along the way.
Title track ‘Wonderlust’ kicks the album off in fine style, after a surging intro, the song calms down during the verse until the chorus kicks in when things get a bit heavier. Next up is last year’s sublime single ‘Gloom’, don’t let the title put you off, its anything but gloomy. Opening with an explosion of drums and guitars, it grabs your attention through jangling guitar riffs and haunting vocals. ‘Best Friend’ showcases their skill for writing brilliant melodies, but interspersing them with massive drums, you know to keep us on our toes. But there is a lingering melancholy as the chorus simply says “Do you remember when we were best friends?”
The albums highlight though is ‘Baby Tiger’, Opening with a wall of feedback and droney noise, it suddenly changes and the riff kicks in. This is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, and shows that Kid Wave aren’t just jangle pop merchants, more importantly it’s lots of fun too. ‘I’m Trying to Break Your Heart’ is another stand out moment, woozy guitars intertwine perfectly with understated vocals and huge drums. ‘Dreaming On’ brings the album to a close. As the title hints, there is a lurid dreamlike feel to it. Ethereal vocals romp with a tender acoustic guitar, but instead of all hell breaking loose, Dreaming On slowly lilts to its beautiful outro.