Published Feb 28, 2014Is it unfair to expect from a full-length debut what was promised on the EP? Wake Owl's Wild Country EP was a stunner, a fresh and flawless collection of build-and-sway arena-folk that was easily among the best EPs of 2013. The Vancouver/Portland band return with The Private World of Paradise exploring new territory and offering up a new sound. Apparently a lot can happen in a year, but the band inhabit the new space as if they've been there all along.
Wake Owl's core members, Colyn Cameron and Aiden Briscall, have teamed up with producer Richard Swift (the Shins, Foxygen, Damien Jurado, among others) and his influence is immediately felt. The new album features a stretched-out Wake Owl playing a smoother, genre-resistant '70s vibe. Whereas the Wild Country EP felt bigger, bordering on anthemic, The Private World of Paradise is atmospheric and experimental, though unobtrusively so, and less prone to abstraction.
Fans of Shins-style haze-folk will like what Wake Owl have done here and might even appreciate the deliberate absence of melancholic sweetness ("I fucked with your mind, silly girl," they sing on the strummy "Oh Baby") or hasty slides into hooky pop. Wake Owl swaggers ("Candy") and lilts ("Madness of Others") as well as anyone, but the goal here is to craft a retro soundscape, a darker, textured and contemplative one.
Cameron and Briscall should be commended for evolving and expanding their sound. Clearly, tacking a few extra songs onto the EP or replicating it would have been too easy for musicians with this much talent and ambition. The Private World of Paradise is certain to earn Wake Owl a legion of devotees among the late-night headphones crowd. (Rezolute)