Wilderness Vessel States

Last year saw Baltimore’s Wilderness virtually rise out of nowhere and seduce listeners with their emotive punch and sublime textures, which felt missing from a lot of the post-post-punk salvo. The overall impression was that PiL were reborn as sensitive boys brought up on a diet of U2’s Boy and Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden. Their self-titled debut’s immaculate use of shimmering reverb, calculative rhythms and colliding cymbals, along with James Johnson’s histrionic vocals and enlightened lectures introduced them as a new band to champion, let alone ponder uncontrollably to in a bedroom. It is suspect then that their follow-up arrives merely eight months after Wilderness, with the same producers — Chad Clark and T.J. Lipple — and studio. Is this some kind of attempt to capitalise on the impression they left before they are forgotten? Are these simply leftover songs recorded at a later date? Possibly and maybe, and I say that only because Vessel States is far too comparable to their debut, sounding like it was both written and recorded during the same sessions. Though according to the liner notes it wasn’t, the overwhelming similarities can work for or against the band, depending on how finicky the listener is. Those looking for progression will only find minor cases in two songs: the devastatingly pensive, yet succinct "Death Verses,” and the climactic charge of the organ-driven "Gravity Bent Light.” However, if more mid-tempo rhythms, iridescently sharp guitars, and that Lydon-esque yowl are on your wish list, than Vessel States meets the standards Wilderness set the first time out. (Jagjaguwar)