Release Date: Jan 21, 2014
Record label: Mom + Pop Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
On their first full-length, Wild Cub sound much more experienced than one would expect a band that has been together just under a year to, as the duo officially came together last November. But a quick peek at their collective resume quickly explains that away: Nashville music veteran Jeremy Bullock has worked with the likes of Madi Diaz and Pico vs. Island Trees, while Keegan DeWitt previously scored films in addition to his solo career.
The artificial synth-horn tones and repurposed Prince beat that begin "Shapeless," the first song on Nashville-via-Brooklyn band Wild Cub's debut album Youth, would seem to set the tone for an album of updated '80s synth pop viewed through an indie lens. This is at least partially true, as there's an '80s reference point on almost each of this lengthy album's 15 tracks. Principle singer/songwriter Keegan DeWitt's vocals draw on Peter Gabriel, Bowie, and even some Achtung Baby-era Bono-isms on the swimmy downer ballad "Drive.
Youth, Nashville quintet Wild Cub’s debut album, was released in their homeland way back in January 2013 and it now finally gets a major label release in the UK over 18 months later. Largely penned by film score composer, songwriter and guitarist Keegan DeWitt along with other main protagonist, multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock, the collection is an eclectic mix of heady, funky electropop, or “inventive, left of centre alt-pop” as the promotional waffle declares. DeWitt has been quick to point to bands such as The xx for inspiration as well as Vampire Weekend, who they have previously supported as well as being big fans of, and there are similarities, but Wild Cub often find themselves in an ‘80s disco groove.
The press bio for Wild Cub begins with an epigraph from author Jonathan Lethem: “Teenage life—possibly adult life too… is all about what you want and can’t have. And then about what you receive and misuse. ” So begins the elaborately wrought, thematically sprawling description of the Nashville quintet led by Keegan DeWitt and Jeremy Bullock and their debut album, Youth.
The debut album from Nashville’s Wild Cub, Youth, collects a set of spacey songs perfect for kicking back your feet, zoning-out, and humming softly along. By the time the anthem “Colour” swings in, frontman Keegan DeWitt’s pop artistry is in full display. It’s a standout track for its big drumbeats and the urgency with which DeWitt repeatedly sings, “Don’t stop,” holding his last note with control and defiance.
Throughout 2014, Wild Cub have been perpetrating a media assault: with performances on Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, a tour with Vampire Weekend and shows with The 1975, these five guys have been trying to grab your attention all year. Another quintet of guys that have been attempting to get themselves absolutely everywhere this year is the Five Guys burger chain (which has just opened up branches in major cities across the UK). So, given that their album costs around as much as a burger and side at Five Guys, is Wild Cub’s brand of chart-friendly alt-pop as addictive as peanut oil fries? And if you had a tenner to spend, which one should you choose? Well, I am no nutritionist, but I do know that an album has less calories than a burger and, in fact, Youth might even get you burning off a few.