The Wilderness of Manitoba Across the Dark

The Wilderness of Manitoba Across the Dark
The Wilderness of Manitoba's fifth album, Across the Dark, pushes their sound further along the path from indie-folk upstarts to festival-pop stalwarts.
Dark is the first Wilderness album solely written and produced by lone original member Will Whitwham, and there's a fitting singularity to its sound: the instrumentation and production snugly couch his songcraft's increasingly pop-rock demands. Dark feels more introspective than Between Colours was, but Whitwham's songwriting handles the shift in tone with ease. In its finest moments — the strutting '80s vibes of opener "Head for the Hills," the gorgeous "Clovers" — Across the Dark shimmers like a sky full of northern lights.
Folk, the band's anchoring descriptor, crops up a few times: "On My Mind" and "Old Fear" both fit the bill with familiar finesse. But the album's spirit bends toward the pop-rock radio of decades past: "Cindy Runs" actively evokes the '60s pop of Whitwham's youth, doubling down on the band's stock-in-trade harmonies from a fresh angle.
Dark could use a little more of that, actually; there's a feeling of ubiquity across its 10 songs, especially in their production, that starts to diminish in impact. And the band's core sound, particularly those layered-vocals choruses, rarely strays far from what's already well-trodden Wilderness of Manitoba territory.
Still, Across the Dark is a welcome addition to the band's catalogue, offering a continued sense of progression, if only an incremental one. (Pheromone)