Album Review: Wildlife – …On the Heart

Cover of Wildlife's new album, ...On the HeartWhen we last checked in with Wildlife, a four-piece band out of Toronto, they were treating us to their grandiose single, “Born to Ruin.” Since then they have released their second album, …On the Heart, a rallying cry steeped in melodrama and emphatic anthems, in which “Born to Ruin” sounds right at home.

Nearly every track on …On the Heart is crafted to be a showstopper, filled with shouts, stomps, and swells. No doubt much of this is due to Peter Katis’ production, whose work with The National and Interpol has achieved similar results. These bands are a good reference point for Wildlife, as they bring a certain emotional charge to songs like “Bad Dream” and “Lightning Tent” that should translate well on stage.

The production definitely fits; even when the songs soar and crash, the focus remains on lead singer Dean Povinsky’s voice, while Dwayne Christie’s pounding drums helps maintain the momentum. Churning guitars and the occasional buzzy new wave synthesizer fleshes things out, giving every song a full, accomplished sound.

If all of this sounds like a bit much, it’s because it is. The problem comes from every song shooting to be over the top, with crescendos that don’t really feel earned. Aforementioned tracks like “Born to Ruin” and “Bad Dream” offer up aggressive choruses and too few melodies, and the differences between one song and the next can be slight. One of the album’s highlights, the synth-rocker “Guillotine,” is the first track to really pause and offer up some kind of tension, but its tempo keeps us at arm’s length, and everything is resolved far too quickly.

Wildlife have a defined sound suitable for big arenas, and …On the Heart is an effective example of translating that sound to the studio. They’re clearly a hard-working band, and through their constant touring it’s likely they’ll cultivate a sizable audience. Wildlife is one to watch as their talent continues to grow.

…On the Heart is out now on Wax Records in the US and Canada. Wildlife can be found on Bandcamp here.

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Author:Kevin White

Kevin White is a writer and podcaster for who spends a lot of time over-thinking music, movies, and pop culture. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife and a small zoo, where he often debates the merits of vinyl over mp3 and watches movies with the commentary tracks. Send complaints, rebuttals, and recipes on Twitter to @KWhiteSays.

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