Wooden Waves - Wilder Dreams (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Wooden Waves

Wilder Dreams (2014)

One Percent Press

There aren’t many albums whose entire mood and momentum can be interpreted entirely from the album art quite like Wooden Waves’ Wilder Dreams. The neon colors, the ridiculous masked being, and the jumble of houses and trees perfectly display the goofy, frantic pop fun at the heart of the entire album, while the anxious expression on the mask reveals the serious searching and deliberation found entrenched in the lyrics. Wilder Dreams is a blast, but it’s not without a level of thoughtful contemplation.

The Buffalo group play a self-described “nervy Northeastern United States surf rock and swim punk” with some definite stoner mentalities. The music’s general upbeat swing is certainly indebted to the surf genre, but there are influences of the 90s pop-rock and even psychedelic vein heard throughout the record. It’s playful, fun music with its head in the clouds, but it never loses its momentum. The band’s true strength is in its male-female vocal punch, providing great harmonies and plenty of background oohs and ahhs to keep things catchy. The album occasionally suffers from sloppiness and repetitive drumming (pretty consistent throughout the entire album), but these faults tend to make the songs a little more endearing and cohesive, respectively.

Amongst the spirited stoner surf rock there’s some serious deliberation on big themes. The band tackles the church and the existence of a higher power on the first track “It’s Only Sky”, asking, “Can we live without these institutions? Can we love our own? Can we grow? Can we pay no mind to this idea of an eye in the sky?” While the album kicks off with consciously huge ideas that linger throughout the album’s entirety, the band manages many more personal, intimate moments. At the end of the record, the lyrics meditate on the personal evolution, for good or bad, with the lyrics, “Look how much you’ve changed, now you’re strange.”

While the music is not inherently punk, its ideas and energy certainly are. Wooden Waves jumbles together eclectic influences to create a sound that’s not too bizarre, just unique enough in the modern music landscape. Wilder Dreams might not be any punk fan’s new favorite record, but it is a fun romp and one of those records I've found myself coming back to repeatedly.