The LA indie-pop trio's new EP is a super catchy, fun collection of songs from a care-free band with a Netflix star as their co-lead singer.
Wallows started releasing music in 2017 and consist of three members. Two of them, Dylan Minnette and Braeden Lemasters, already had early success as actors before becoming co-lead singers in Wallows. You may recognise Minnette’s name or face from starring in successful Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.
The American band’s 2019 debut album Nothing Happens was fantastic, a proper indie rock record. After its success – I can’t recommend that album enough if you are running low on new alternative music – the band had started to develop a cult following not just in the US but here in the UK.
I experienced this first hand as thanks to the help of Twitter, I bought two spare tickets off someone for just £5 each to see them live with my friend in Leeds. They were brilliant. They even performed a cover of The Cure’s 'Boys Don’t Cry' which was a nice touch. I wasn’t surprised by them doing this as I remember seeing a video circulating online of them doing a cover of The Smiths so I knew they liked to share their obvious taste for British rock music.
The band dropped a single earlier this year called 'OK' with an accompanying 90s nostalgia music video. This ended up being the first instalment of a three-part music video story (more of that later). It was expected to be the lead single for their second album, indeed it still could be, but that is still to come. Instead, in October, they released an EP without this song on it called Remote.
Remote is a clear evolution from their debut album. It’s more electronic & carefully layered. Each song bleeds into the next with seamless transitions, something they had already done expertly throughout Nothing Happens. Continuing this formula whilst taking a left turn with their sound on Remote has made fans intrigued as to what direction the band will go for the sophomore album. But until then, we can enjoy this tremendous EP that boasts six tracks.
Its first track is called 'Virtual Aerobics' and it's so fresh that it feels like opening a Christmas gift that you wanted but didn’t ask for. The official music video for it is them doing a daft dance/aerobic routine in front of a green screen. It’s them goofing around and having fun yet still effortlessly putting out a great song, which ends up being the theme for the whole project. The chorus below is the heartbeat of this short, addictive song.
“I probably over wear these Nikes
I clean them up when they get a scuff
Tell me when you think they’ve had enough”
'Dig What You Dug' is a great follow-up. It is more of a radio-friendly pop song in the verses and chorus sonically. That doesn’t stop them from finishing it off with a tongue-in-cheek spoken outro: “I dig what you dug… and I dug what you dig.”
Then in comes, the moreish 'Nobody Gets Me (Like You)'. As the song title suggests, it captures that feeling when you realise someone fully understands you. Lemasters paints the picture beautifully in the verses with Minnette harmonising with him in between.
The music video is a continuation from the previously mentioned video for “OK”, which ends with the band ringing the doorbell that leads into an epic party. Part two below sees how it unfolds with humour, computer-edits & other cool surprises.
It’s refreshing when artists create a virtual world for their fans filled with references, stories and easter eggs. It means fans get more out of their music with all the details to explore & get excited about; there is a bigger payoff for being a fan. Wallows look like they’re going to continue to be a band of that ilk, so be ready for self-references to continue.
'Coastlines' at #4 is overall probably my favourite song and I’d recommend using headphones for it. This is a summery tune and the most blatantly California-influenced number. Minnette keeps the mic for the whole thing and sings over, well, a bit of a house beat underneath. The tempo is slowed at the right times and is one of their most mature bits of production to date.
Penultimate track 'Talk Like That' ups the pace with fast vocal delivery. It goes hand in hand with 'Virtual Aerobics' as it’s short but sweet and the bliss lasts around two minutes. After the bridge, the music momentarily stops, there’s a clear-of-the-throat cough, then it explodes back into the final chorus. Ah, I love a stop & start.
Parts of this EP reminded me, on first listen at least, to Two Door Cinema Club’s sound on their perhaps underrated album Gameshow.
'Wish Me Luck' maintains the feel of the EP but is clearly a closing track with a slower chorus and deeper lyrics, including: “I don’t wanna lose myself to all my insecurities If I told you all of them, who would it hurt more, you or me?”
It also has its own psychedelic space-based music video, and guess what? It follows straight on from the 'Nobody Gets Me (Like You)' story; it is the third and final instalment of the so-called Curly Fry Trilogy.
The final verdict
The whole project just seems playful. Minnette explained that many of the songs were written before Nothing Happens even came out. So they always had this up their sleeves, which must have been reassuring. It is said that they reworked & enhanced some of the songs in lockdown before release and it must be better for it.
This EP is faultless and perfectly timed to fill the gap between LPs. It takes a new direction for the band whilst still keeping some of their trademark upbeat, indie-pop sound they made their own first time out. It is a fun listen as much as it is an impressive one. And it no doubt makes fans really excited about what is to come. On their second album, will they revert back to their no-lose indie? Or will they experiment further? I can’t wait.