Your words as a music critic will often come back around to you, such as when you offer a mixed but optimistic review of a young band on a young label, hoping in the review that future releases will wow you as a means of saying the current one does not. That’s how I approached Wavering Saints’ 2004 debut EP, Strike Date, finding a band with a lot of promise. Now comes the Collusion EP, six songs of unique indie rock that absolutely builds on the promise of Strike Date while still showing a band developing its sound.
I couldn’t help but feel the production of Strike Date gave it much of its unique sound, and the recording quality of Collusion again gives the band a kind of lo-fi sensibility. There’s a kind of echoey, small room feel to these songs, and despite what has to be more than simply four or eight tracks, the album maintains a home-recorded feel. The difference is, while that was jarring on Strike Date, it feels essential to Collusion, giving the rather poppy band a garage-rock meets bedroom-pop feel. And perhaps that’s the best description of this act’s sound.
Thick wall-of sound fuzz and spacey guitars provide the backdrop to “Subtle Believers,” over which light drums and the band’s unique vocals give a more pop-based feel. It’s an interesting mix of styles, and it works remarkably well, giving the EP a very promising opening. It contrasts nicely with the follow-up, “Strike Date,” which is essentially strummed acoustic guitar and richly echoed vocals, and it’s on songs like this one where the lo-fi production is especially evident and warmly embraced.
“Homeless Teeth Transportation” suffers a bit from mixing the vocals behind the loud, edgy guitars. And it’s only the ironic title that jars me on “Tour the Shit Out of This Motherfucker,” a lush, ambient-style tune that clearly makes a statement for the band’s willingness to try new things. There’s horns on the mellow and swirling “Magnetic,” and perhaps this is the track where the vocals truly and finally work.
There was a movement in the early 90s of lo-fi sensibilities reclaiming rock music, and bands like Beat Happening were at the forefront of the movement. Thank Wavering Saints for embracing that while offering a jolt of unique instrumentation, using texture and enough guitar and vocal effects to bridge the gap between studio sheen and bedroom/garage warmth. Still, there’s much that can be done to improve on the sound for a full-length, and while I’ve been wowed, I’m eager to be awed.