Some bands want to play the same music that the icons of their genre once did, only in present day. Others, California’s Wild Wing included, want to build on the blueprint that was set forth by those fabled legends, which is precisely what we hear in New Futures, a record that takes a couple of cues from punk rock’s storied past in an effort to forge something that is both forward-thinking and full of a classic melodic moxie at the same time. Wild Wing sizzle in slow songs like “Ontario,” electrified garage rock ala “Dark Ages,” minimalist tunes like “Runaround” and unabashed tours de force in the style of “Killing Joke,” the first single from New Futures, and if you expected as much out of this latest release from the band as I did, then you’re going to find yourself quite pleased with what it has to offer in nine unconventionally toned tracks.
There’s a very postmodern stylization to what we find inside of “Moma’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “Me n’ Mine” and “State of the Art,” and though each of these songs employs a different framework, they share a commonality in their DIY aesthetics that makes them the perfect bedmates for this particular tracklist. New Futures isn’t overly artsy, but there’s no denying that it’s a lot more progressive in design than The Glory Forever or Doomed II Repeat, two records that brought a lot of attention in the direction of this band in the last few years. It’s a positive upgrade, at least from where I sit as a critic.
The tremendous amount of color in the instrumental harmonies of “Dark Ages,” “Triumph” and “Runaround” are as much a focal point here as any of the lyrics are. Hooks are plentiful in New Futures, but they’re a lot less pronounced than I was initially anticipating them to be. I think it’s fair to say that pleasing the average pop fan was not something that this band had in mind when making this album; the cosmetics are just too full of complexities and rich textures that demand a trained ear’s attention to fully appreciate, and though there’s enough energy in songs like “Moma’s Got a Brand New Bag” to satisfy any summer alternative audience, I think that branding this album’s nine track as anything other than high-end, intellectually-stimulating indie rock would be totally dismissive of the quality play that this LP features in droves.
Wild Wing are an awesome band, and they’ve just issued one of the smartest alternative rock albums that you’re likely to hear this season in New Futures, which attempts to take punk rock into the 2020’s on the whim of gripping basslines, loads of coarse white noise and affectionate melodies that linger in the air for quite some time after the music has ceased to pour from the stereo. I’ve been keeping up with these guys for a minute now, but they’re sounding more adept at their craft in this album than they ever did before. They couldn’t have picked a better time to drop New Futures, as June was definitely in need of some spunky rock rhythm.