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Jack Tatum's Sublime Dream-Pop

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I was quite stunned to learn that Wild Nothing is basically a one-man production after tuning in to Gemini (2010) and Nocturne (2012) on Youtube (lead vocalist/composer/writer/producer Jack Tatum is joined by the band’s other members during live performances). It’s not only a matter of Tatum’s alternation between a somewhat androgynous crooning and a decidedly lower register on tracks like ‘Nocturne’ (BBC reviewer Jude Clark points out that  “Tatum’s vocal fits perfectly, languorously, with this [dreamy] mood. Its smoothness is only occasionally broken up by a switch to a slightly gruffer lower register, as on the title track, where it adds a little of the grit that is generally lacking elsewhere”) – in an era where most artists don’t even write the songs they perform, it’s hard to imagine an entire album that’s a product of a single mind.



And unlike most mainstream pop personas, Tatum’s personality takes a backseat to the music, something the opening verses of title track ‘Nocturne’ seems to allude to, with its playful and effective evocation of a knowing but elusive lyrical persona: "You want to know me? Well, what's to know?"


The track has a slightly stalkerish undertone, sung from the perspective of a male lover blissfully eager to offer himself fully to the loved one:

‘I know where to find you/ I know where you go

And I just want to let you know

You can have me/ You can have me all’


While the chorus seems to express an unrestrained, headlong desire to embrace the possibility of romance, the second verse hints at some ambivalence (which is easy to miss amidst the overall dreamy, optimistic feel):

‘And you’re twisted /What can I say?

Your days are empty/ And my tongue’s decayed

And we stay up just to tempt me/ One more night of your company’


The track’s main appeal lies in the overall dreamy, languorous, lyrical atmosphere it creates with the help of low-key orchestrated strings and synths, accompanied by soft percussive beats. The instrumental sections in ‘Nocturne’ are particularly melodic, synergizing with Tatum’s vocal performance to create a near-sublime listening experience. As a DIY Mag reviewer observes, you don’t have to be familiar with all the 80’s musical reference that Wild Nothing draws from to appreciate this “gorgeous album of soundscapes”. This track is musical escapism at its best. 



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