It’s the hope and dreams of all music consumers, voracious and common listeners alike, to swiftly identify what artist, album or at least song that will stand to represent their go to summer jam as the dog days roll around. Unfortunately, the search often concludes fruitlessly, and what once were hopes and dreams fade to unrealized attempts to restore the promise that summer once offered as favorite records of years past attempt to extend the breadth of their magic and fill in for just a few more months. I know because I have been there several times in the past. Fortunately for me, after months of prep work yielded little to no substantive results, I stumbled upon a gem in Wild Nothing’s debut LP Gemini and a week later am fully prepared to anoint it my summer album for 2010. And as if the summer connotations of the album’s astrological title did not run deep enough, its late June release date and infectiously mellow melodies should be more than sufficient.
Wild Nothing is the solo effort of Blacksburg, Va. 21-year-old Jack Tatum, whose previous work with Facepaint and Jack and The Whale suggests of his ability and preference to craft tightly written and bouncy pop, though hardly alludes to the unreal talent offered on display here. Despite lo-fi conditions and aesthetics, Tatum achieves an incredibly detailed and sterile sound that truly becomes the songs that comprise his first full length. Equally influenced by The Smiths (without the mawkish self-pity of Morrissey) and The Cure (sans the draconian gloom and doom imagery, or for that matter the sometimes inexplicable cheeriness of Robert Smith) yet wholly a part of the new do-it-yourself electro-tinged dream pop being most masterfully produced by the likes of Neon Indian and Ariel Pink, Gemini is decidedly its own entity. Tatum’s vocals, which are most frequently layered, are the strongest element of the music. Set equally in the mix with the keyboards, drums, and guitars, the voice serves almost as another instrument, just as distorted as the rest, as it surreptitiously creeps under and above the music.
One of the most refreshing aspects of the music is that there is no over pronounced urgency to make the song go unnecessarily far. Tatum’s sound is so confident and self-assured that he seemingly has no problem with a four-minute song showcasing no more than one or two parts. This approach presents a sort of repetitive drone; a buzzing quality that bolsters the utter coolness of the music. A hazy yet cogent swirl of melodies and distorted orchestration are in constant supply on the album as Tatum puts an indelible stamp on summer 2010 and leaves a solid impression on his debut solo offering.