Published Feb 19, 2016Third albums are typically the moment in a band's evolving artistry when one looks back on their achievements thus far and asks themselves: What's next? For Wild Nothing's Jack Tatum, Life of Pause means less of a reinvention than sonic exploration, challenging himself to attain more crispness and texture in his pop songs, using methods that often veer away from his signature style.
The xylophone tremors on "Reichpop" play in the distance of Tatum's silky guitar chords, with keyboard blips brushing in and out of the most perfect harmonies. "A Woman's Wisdom" features lyrics like "I don't believe in Heaven / But you can be my church," a dark proposition that somehow seems charming in the midst of wonky feedback. For the title track, "Life of Pause," Tatum enlists a lot of new percussion and gleaming synths, diving into more sappy lyrics that verge on cheesiness but are still super fun to sing along to.
The album's second half acts more as a mood board, with a lot of ideas either hitting the mark or getting lost completely. "TV Queen" has a post-Nocturne vibe that feels like the first time all over again, and "Whenever I" takes one part Real Estate and one part late-night jazz and blends them into a slow burn of groovy, saxophone swells and sultry, monotone vocals.
Overall, Life of Pause is a very good record that pleases more than it impresses, but Tatum's constant pursuit of new sounds suggests there may be even greater things come on his next release. (Bella Union)