The Wild Frontier - Until the Day Breathes
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Oct. 10, 2010
The Wild Frontier are an Australian quintet that plays dusty, spartan folk rock. This is their debut full-length.
How is it?
Ummm, amazing. While it tapers off in places, the majority of these 10 songs are as hypnotic and deeply moving as anything the Australian folk scene has seen in quite some time. While copious amounts of praise are being bestowed upon Angus and Julia Stone and The Middle East, Sydney's The Wild Frontier have quietly gone about their business very much under the radar of the Australian mainstream. That might very well change with this release. Employing the vocals of Christopher Mayes and Phillipa Vaughan, Until the Day Breathes is impassioned, intelligent and downright transcendent. Blending erudite introspection with tender acoustic arrangements, Until the Day Breathes shimmers and shakes with an effortless and precision that is downright startling.
The quintet's greatest asset is their diversity. "My Friend Called Tom," is a country duet inspired by the likes of The Carter Family, and just might be one of the year's best in the genre, while "For You," channels dream-pop a la Beach House. When the band wants t up the sonic ante, they do so with aplomb, such as on the dense, multi-layered epic "The Heavens Are On Fire."
"Words of Love," is plaintive, piano-driven and elegant, while the piano-driven "The Thing I've Been," is lovelorn, timeless and deeply resonant. Vaughan has a gorgeous voice and nowhere is that more elucidated than on the slow-moving and undeniably Midwestern "Coming Round the Bend." The band is no stranger to languor and plodding arrangements and the six-minute "Dawn, Dusk, Return," certainly employs them to great effect. While it probably could have been a minute or two shorter, the richness of both Christopher and Phillipa's vocals are nothing short of staggering.
The piano-driven "Sparrows Across the Meadow," is arguably one of the disc's best efforts as it utilizes minimalism, restraint and vivid imagery to do most of the heavy lifting. Many bands often try to achieve this very feat, but few can ever do so. That The Wild Frontier have done this on their debut is certainly worthy of accolades. The six-minute "Fire Through the Grass," attempts to serve as an amalgamation of "Dawn, Dusk, Return," and "The Heaves are on Fire," and while it certainly has its moments it is at this point that the listener starts to feel fatigue. Thankfully "My Friend Called Tom," follows but before "I Can't Get Started," can even open itself up, the haggard sentiments from "Fire Through the Grass," have once again returned.
But picking apart little trivialities is not really the point. Until the Day Breathes is a tremendous effort and points to a most promising new band. While the chances of seeing them tour the States remains faint at best. For now, this disc is enough to keep roots-rock fans satiated. If only Australia knew just how blessed they truly are.