With their second EP, Wallows plays into the hands of finding a new sound.
Nearly two years after their debut album, Nothing Happens, Remote is an example of the choice faced by most new bands: stick with the same sound or branch out before the fans box you in? With their entire first album having been produced by Grammy-winner John Congleton, the band opted to explore new production styles by a new team of producers including Sachi DiSerafino, John DeBold and Ariel Rechtshaid.
The project’s opening track “Virtual Aerobics” boasts a strong performance from drummer Cole Preston. As the EP progresses, he puts on more of a display in tracks “Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” and “Talk Like That.” Though Preston’s drumming ability is often drowned out behind overbearing production gimmicks and his bandmates’ instruments and vocals, his touch on the percussion end still finds a way to be a spotlight in this EP.
Aside from a few stragglers, most of the lyrics on these tracks are juvenile and frankly, underwhelming. In spite of this project featuring a handful of punchy lines about the COVID-19 pandemic, there is really no one song that stands out as a lyrical crown jewel. The aforementioned “Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” is full of corny and overplayed clichés that listeners have heard a million times before. We’ve seen this with other boy bands and Wallows hasn’t fallen far from that tree.
With the vocals split between Dylan Minnette and Braeden Lemasters, there are a few moments that give their impotent lyrics some heart and soul when performed. On “Dig What You Dug” Lemasters takes the bull by its horns and delivers a pleasing performance with harmonies and supporting vocals from Minnette. The EP’s fourth track “Coastlines” sees Minnette pushing himself a little harder and gives the track a memorable vocal strain even though the song itself is lyrically simple.
While this EP doesn’t measure up to the standards set by Nothing Happens, it still has some shining moments. Though it doesn’t appeal to the Wallows sound that fans are used to, there are still a few tracks that have the potential to be fan favourites moving forward. When listened to from start to finish, each song in the EP segues seamlessly from one to the next, which is not something traditionally expected from an EP, giving it the merit of The Strokes’ The New Abnormal or SZA’s Ctrl; projects that are best experienced when listened to in the tracklist order.
At a brief 16-minute runtime, Remote is safe and sound. What it missed in terms of providing strong lyrics, it makes up for by playing around with production effects, making it an easy listen for Wallows stans and casual listeners alike.
Trial track: Virtual Aerobics