The layered dynamics of Wild Manes’ single “Northern Wind” lend its spare but exquisite melody a musical depth and impact that isn’t immediately obvious until you’re listening through again. The three part harmonies, the guitar parts that work more like accents on the rhythm, the solid and fluid bass line that seems to anchor the song all work perfectly together to make the subject of the song seem not as heavy and not as potentially dark as it seems to be. A reference to a “King of birds” and feeling left hanging but dependent, the only reliable thing being that uncertainty and maybe a little bit of pain. It is fairly enigmatic in its meaning but suggests the kinds of emotional abuse people live with unspoken for years until they figure out a way to get free of that association. The music is upbeat if melancholy like putting on your best face even as you’re hurting and casts a fascinating thematic contrast not common enough in modern indie pop. Listen to “Northern Wind” on Spotify, connect with Wild Manes at the links below and look for the NYC-based sextet’s new EP due out later in 2020.
“Cicadas” by Wild Manes is a great example of a song that combines several spare elements to create a deep listening experience. The interlocking guitar melodies are both soothing and gritty as befits the moment in the song. The vocal harmonies are tight and melodious yet flowing with a gentle energy that helps carry the momentum of the song alongside an equally fluid, tuneful bass line that doesn’t serve merely to accent the rhythm as is often the case in a lot of modern indie music. The percussion is minimal but it sets a mood of its own, one of anticipation that resolves in the choruses and by the song’s end. One imagines the entire song conceived of and written for all the parts to complement each other so that even a song that doesn’t bowl you over with volume or melodramatic dynamics can strike you as so vivid and compelling. There are no cheap tropes, no empty sonic calories, not heavy handed sentiments or musical flourishes, it’s simply a song that you can get something new out of with every listen which is rare in pop music at any time. Listen to “Cicadas” on Spotify and connect with New York’s Wild Manes at the links below.