Wesley Wolfe - Storage (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Wesley Wolfe

Storage (2010)

Odessa/Thinker Thought

While listening to Wesely Wolfe's latest album, Storage, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd heard it somewhere before, but I couldn't pinpoint it. After repeat listens I was still stumped and felt I may inevitably have to relinquish all hope for the "RIYL" label that reviewers love. In an effort to cleanse my mind of the album, I decided to watch a movie. Suddenly, in the middle of Darjeeling Limited, I realized this is where I heard this music. Not in this movie specifically, but in this Wes Anderson-/indie-type film. You know the kind: slow-paced, sometimes awkward conversation encompassed by a soundtrack of indie-ish bands you've yet to hear (maybe Garden State is a better example, but I wasn't watching that). It was in this style of film that I knew Wolfe's music belonged, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Storage is filled with slow-to-mid-tempo tracks that can range from the intriguing to the redundant. At its best the album features lyrics that simply yet delicately tie together complex subject matter. Wolfe is never short on simple lines that encompass thoughts and feelings that could fill pages. At its worst the album feels exactly like its title suggests: storage for half-finished songs and ideas. On more than one occasion songs seem to amble about until an appropriate hook is found and then they sort of just repeat and dwindle out. The frustration with these songs is twofold, because you know Wolfe can write more cohesive songs, and they seem to cut out right when the song is at the cusp of getting interesting.

Musically, the thing that is striking about the album is that I wouldn't pinpoint it as a solo effort. While Wolfe can be classified as a solo artist (he played many of the instruments on the album entirely on his own), you don't get just a guy with a guitar here. Wolfe certainly can go the acoustic route ("Food Chain") but Storage really shines when it stretches out and features an array of instruments from fuzzy guitar tones to cascading drums and even a cello. These moments add flair to some of the album's most interesting and repeatable songs. "Gone for Good" is one of the finest examples of Wolfe's range, starting with simple acoustic guitar and vocals, building momentum with a keyboard, then climbing into a soaring guitar solo before slowly exiting with a series of layered and harmonized vocals that stay with you long after the song is done. These moments are the times where Wolfe shines as both a songwriter and musician.

You add up all the pieces and what you have with Storage is an album that frustrates you with its own possibilities. The parts of the album that seem less stellar actually suffer more because other parts of the album are so remarkable. On a weaker album some of these tracks might just slip by, but on an album where some of the tracks are downright impressive, the flaws are much more glaring. While it is upsetting to give a mixed review of this album, I am comforted by the unwavering belief that Wolfe's best work is still ahead of him and (much like the aforementioned Wes Anderson) he'll likely eclipse himself several times over.