The Welsh sextet's second album is a heady mix of shoegaze and dream pop that is well worth the four-year wait
Some records sound like they’re beamed from the past. On their long-gestating second album, Cardiff sextet Wylderness sound like they’re travelling back and forward from 2016 to 1982, capturing their finds down an echoey telephone line.
If you’re partial to shoegaze, dream pop and swooning indie, this will sound like an idyllic combination of eras; Ride meets DIIV meets Dream Syndicate meets Real Estate in a swirl of reverb and hazy melodies. ‘Wet Look’ is almost jaunty, a spacey, jangly mid-point between DIIV and Ride’s Going Blank Again. ‘YLT vs VU’ is exactly what its acronym suggests: a fight to the death between Yo La Tengo’s fuzzy epics and Velvet Underground’s detached minimalism. ‘Tropics’ takes a calypso groove and drapes it in shade, like The Jesus & Mary Chain in a Hawaiian shirt. Which, as it turns out, sounds almost exactly like The Walkmen.
Nothing on Big Plans For A Blue World is in a hurry but the gradual unfolding feels like tiny moments of joy replayed in slow motion. The two-chord verses of a song like ‘Chet Chat’ seem almost dirge-like until a third chord is introduced like colour to a monochrome film. These are carefully constructed soundscapes as much as they’re songs: changes in note, tempo or arrangement are deliberately placed for maximum effect.
That might sound predictable, but Big Plans For A Blue World is anything but. At its best, these moments feel like alchemy, like the outro to ‘Modern Pentathalon’ which you can easily imagine spiralling into blissed out euphoria on a sunset stage.
On their 2018 debut, Wylderness showed more than a little promise. They’ve spent the last four years wisely, refining their sound and figuring out their identity. The result is an album that frequently recalls the greats but sounds exactly like itself.