Given that Portland, Oregon, continues to be a hotbed of all things creative and progressive (veganism, gay softball, pedicabs), whatever comes out of there musically is also going to be worth a listen. Having been together for seven years, five-piece Wild Ones have hit a particularly rich seam of self-confidence and self-knowledge on Mirror Touch.
What they have produced is a sleek, clean album with surfaces like black quartz in a new kitchen. The album’s coherence is generated by the themes of selfhood, empathy and loneliness, not to mention the unrequited love interest. The beauty of Mirror Touch is the Wild Ones’ blending of thoughtful lyrics and melodic electropop. For once, the proclaimed influences on the group, Cocteau Twins and En Vogue, can be believed.
Both singles ‘Invite Me In’ and ‘Paresthesia’ are accessibly upbeat. As on the rest of the album, they showcase the wonderful clarity of Danielle Sullivan’s vocal. ‘Invite Me In’ is about being selective about who you open your literal and emotional doors to. There is a touch of the American high school movie about Mirror Touch, The Breakfast Club on Barocca, the tracks having a certain universality.
Many of the songs are preoccupied with love or at least a love that has apparently stopped, started then stopped again. At times the love interest is distant and untouchable. ‘Standing In The Back At Your Show’ is a desperately romantic track, full of unsatisfied yearning. It also full of mischief, ‘I know it’s wrong to lead you astray’ but the singer is ‘fighting a craving’. ‘Forgetting Rock N Roll’ continues with the same theme and you can feel her pain, a hunger in an empty stomach. The sense of the unreachable is mirrored in the sampled voices, trapped behind misted glass.
Into the mix is added the seductive ‘Do You Really’ with its catchy chorus, ‘Do you really want to turn me away?’ And, whilst there is plenty of wishful thinking, you’ve got to hope that it works out for them.
Mirror Touch sticks to a formula that is working very successfully for Wild Ones and one that is well honed. They deviate rarely but it’s worth it when they do. ‘Night Shift’ is a one and a half minute instrumental interlude with piano and a host of sound effects. It captures an empty freight train hurtling through the underground. ‘Love + Loathing’ has electronic finger clicks and is much more experimental, its sound being both futuristic and capturing the stellar beauty of the night sky.
Mirror Touch is a supremely confident and self-assured album. It is also full of integrity and sensitivity. Like a butterfly catching the last rays of summer.
Mirror Touch is out now through Topshelf.