Wild Sweet Orange - The Whale EP
Record Label: Nervous Blood
Release Date: November 6, 2007
Is your town missing a soundtrack? If your town's a modest, relaxed place with down-home appeal, then it may have just found it.
With wonderfully whimsical lyrics and a grab-bag of musical styles wrapped comfortably in vocalist Preston Lovinggood’s loose melodies, Wild Sweet Orange write memories. The band tugs at strings of familiarity, directing the listener toward a tactile experience of not only their music, but of life itself.
Wild Sweet Orange manage the perilous task of effectively executing an EP with surprising ease. While many such releases are unapologetic pieces of bait, a few filler tracks to mask the barren years between full-length albums, The Whale EP is a delightfully satisfying sample of Wild Sweet Orange’s indie-folk sensibility. The EP begins with the superlative track “Wrestle with God,” which sounds like a rambunctious guitar duel with Conor Oberst. The song saunters through persistent snare beats, dirty guitar licks, and Midwestern harmonies that accent lyrics of struggle and self-discovery. Oddly enough, the track’s conclusion may be its strongest point when the listener is tossed in an entirely different musical continuum of arcing riffs and expansive drums that dissolve into a single acoustic guitar and Lovinggood whispering, “If you want me / Please come and find me.” It’s a haunting experience.
This ethereal outro promotes a smooth transition into the soothing “Tilt" (acoustic). A couple quiet guitars and brushed percussion bring Lovinggood’s voice, one of Wild Sweet Orange’s best assets, to the forefront of a halcyon track that compliments rainy days and those few moments in the evening right before sleep comes. “Be Careful (What You Want)” picks up the pace with driving rhythms and a background of clanging guitars before the band returns to subtle strains of longing in “Land of No Return.” It’s easy to stumble into the ocean of nostalgia that leaks from this song as Wild Sweet Orange sculpt fragments of childhood and big sky states into an ode to growing up. The Whale EP’s concluding tune, “I’m Coming Home,” is a microcosm of the band’s character – a poppy soundtrack to wistful hope and homespun return trips. This band really does sound like coming home.
The production of The Whale EP shows how aggressively the band worked to create their atmospheric tones, so if extensive reverb isn’t your thing, it’s best to avoid this album. Wild Sweet Orange have packed their intricate personality into a tightly condensed release. We can only hope that future full-lengths (the first of which is set to debut in 2008 on Canvasback/Columbia Records) will retain such a diverse degree of musical flare.
Wild Sweet Orange tackle the complexities and inconsistencies of our great wide world in a way that is both comforting and frightening. It’s like crossing the street for the first time. Let this band hold your hand and walk you through your fears and you’ll no doubt emerge on the other side, full of hope and assurance.
good review. just discovered these guys last night on the Augustana tour, and they put on a damn good show. at certain points, his voice does remind me of Andy Hull, so i agree that it "rocks like" MO. can't wait for the full length.