We take a look at rising indie stars Wallows’ latest release; the pandemic-made EP Remote. The quirky band shine through with their 90s aesthetics, quirky humour, and catchy tracks with a powerful EP you would never believe was created remotely. With Remote, it would appear the band are maturing for the best.
Wallows is arguably one of the best indie bands on the rise from the past couple of years. The band members, Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, and Cole Preston, have been together since 2013. After the release of their Nothing Happens album in 2019, which was their first album and eight years in the making, their popularity began to rise; their most popular song being Are You Bored Yet? (feat. Clairo). The album Nothing Happens had the overarching theme of leaving childhood, and the band announced that their music after the album would consist of a new sound as they moved away from this theme. The band had plans to tour the US in the spring and play at some festivals in Europe throughout the autumn of 2020, but due to Covid-19 these plans were cancelled. Luckily for their fans, they released their latest EP Remote on 23 October 2020; written, recorded and produced remotely during the lockdown. The songs on the EP were made remotely with the help of many other people: Sachi DiSerafino, John DeBold, and Aiel Rechtshaid all helped in producing, Caleb Laven and Dave Fridmann mixed the songs while Emily Lazer did the mastering. This group effort (which took place mainly over video chat) allowed for their EP to be produced safely.
Along with the six songs on the EP, Wallows released a trilogy of continuous music videos during the lockdown, including OK, Nobody Gets Me (Like You) and Wish Me Luck. The first music video for OK shows the three boys on their way to a party, the second video for Nobody Gets Me (Like You) shows the boys at the party where Braeden meets the girl of his dreams and the final video for Wish Me Luck depicts them 30 years after the party in an animated video that takes place in a space virtual reality. The three videos have a 90s vibe, which is shown through the costumes, the tape player in the car, the language, the editing and the sets. The videos are humorous skits, filled with inside jokes that only fans would be able to fully appreciate; they even created new merch from ongoing jokes in the videos. Wallows’ sense of humour and 90s aesthetics shine through in these videos, making them a great way to connect with fans.
The themes in the songs from the EP are recurring from Dylan and Braeden: Dylan’s songs (Virtual Aerobics, Coastlines, Talk Like That and Wish Me Luck) have the theme of struggling to communicate while Braeden’s songs (Dig What You Dug and Nobody Gets Me (Like You)) have his classic underlying tone of desiring closeness, trust and falling in love too quickly. Remote emits a new electronic tone that the band hasn’t tried much before, their previous songs usually consisting of just drums, guitar, piano, and vocals. While these instruments are still in the songs on their EP, they have added a retro electronic style to the instrumentation that gives off an old-school video game aesthetic; the reference to the 1980s/1990s arcade game Dig Dug in Dig What You Dug supports the retro vibe that is seen in the album cover, instrumentation and music videos. Although they are experimenting with a new sound, the classic Wallows sound is still there.
My favourite aspect of their EP is the transitions between songs. Wallows cleverly insert transitions between their songs that can only be noticed if you listen to Remote in the correct order. The transitions are smooth and blend together perfectly, adding a sense of connectivity to Remote as a whole. The best way to listen to Remote is to listen to the entire 16 minutes and 32 seconds from start to finish. Wallows sell all of their albums on vinyl to encourage listening to their music in this way, but because most of us listen to music electronically it is a lot easier to miss the transitions when shuffling the songs. Don’t get me wrong, listening to this EP on shuffle is still great, but you will not get the full Remote experience. The beautiful transitions reflect the amount of creativity they put into their craft.
Sadly, many of us were hoping to hear Cole on vocals in this EP (after we caught a glimpse of his voice in With A Little Help From My Friends, I think we all wanted to hear more); but this is my only complaint.
While I’m a sucker for their older singles (Uncomfortable being my all-time favourite), their new EP moves towards a new sound that reflects where they are in life now. The harmony of both singers in Dig What You Dug and Dylan’s deeper, emotional lyrics and voice that come through on Wish Me Luck pull the EP together; these are my favourite tracks on Remote. I rate this EP a 9/10, and although I am biased as a huge Wallows fan, I was truly impressed with the instrumentation and quality of the work on the EP, even without considering that it was made remotely during a pandemic. Wallows' music allows us as listeners to hear them grow up as a band, which gives us a personal connection to their work. Their new sound in Remote makes me excited to see what they produce next.
Top track: Dig What You Dug
Overall rating: 9/10
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