Wild Cub - Youth
Wild Cub have a lot to say. Their debut LP, Youth, is an almost hour long electro-pop disco of jangling arpeggios and bombastic grooves. Paving the way for a naïve tale of young love expressed through vocalist and songwriter, Keegan DeWitt’s pleasant timbre. Along with co-creator, Jeremy Bullock, Wild Cub have compiled a record of tempting pop treats that although approachable and comforting, are sickly sweet.
Youth displays many characteristics: from scripted pop arrangements of 'Shapeless' and 'Colour' to the ambient minimalism of 'The Water', through to disco highs of 'Thunder Clatter' and 'Straight No Turns'. Such variation may suggest an eclectic triumph and it's certainly a complete work, but where the record becomes difficult is in the comprehension.
Emotional clarity is forsaken for indulgent and unnecessary lyrical quantity. For all intents and purposes this ought to be an excellent pop record, after all the inventive accompaniment evident on 'Streetlights' in particular, continues throughout. However, prominent above the more fascinating sub-melodies is the distanced distraction of DeWitt's vocal. It is a constant.
There are undoubtedly precious pockets of lyric and melody combined, but they're much too linear both in tone and insight. The constant first person perspective of his songs are a draining repetition, "I/You" etc, becomes effortlessly clichéd. By the time of penultimate track 'Windows', constantly resolving melodies sound anaemic, especially when evoking the averted eye contact of two 'lovers'; the supposed sensuality of fingers through hair, nibbled earlobes, and not to mention the 'Time of our Lives' drum beat.
Coldplay's soulless melodrama weighs heavily upon every sentiment, leaning away from St. Lucia as a contemporary, and sacrificing necessary imperfections in favour of incessant optimism and melodic resolutions. Wild Cub's sound works when understated, but every instinct appears to return to preordained ideas of what creative music ought to be. Had they edited their sound, purified it, and preserved a canvas which isn't crowded with a vocal narrator; savouring it for purpose instead. Had they taken the subtle funk of 'Straight No Turns' and its simplicity of spirit, there wouldn't be the question of intent.
Is this uplifting pop or profound emotional expression? It's impossible to argue either, but its impression is diluted. There are indications that if Wild Cub recognise what their sound is notable for then there is an inventive pop record in there somewhere. One thing's for sure though, it's not their radio-ready impulse or predictable insight which provides it.