The debut album from Nashville’s Wild Cub, Youth, collects a set of spacey songs perfect for kicking back your feet, zoning-out, and humming softly along. By the time the anthem “Colour” swings in, frontman Keegan DeWitt’s pop artistry is in full display. It’s a standout track for its big drumbeats and the urgency with which DeWitt repeatedly sings, “Don’t stop,” holding his last note with control and defiance. The energy throughout is relentless, and it’s the first hint of Wild Cub’s staying-power among the numerous players in the synth-pop game.
The songs that resonate do so because of the chants and the shouts, sparkled by DeWitt’s gentle power. Try “Thunder Clatter”, a frenzied composition mixed with the right ingredients for dancing. The prevailing lyrical themes, which surface through the guitar, the bass, and the claps, are loud and clear: “I hear it all in the center of my heart/ You’re the love of my life.”
As the album title would imply, DeWitt’s youth also lives at the center of his heart, which helps him write songs about his memories with help from multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock. Of course, nostalgia can often get sleepy and distant, which is what happens towards the middle of the album. Songs like “The Water” are wistful in in nature, but sometimes even easygoing freedom needs to be harnessed or given a direction. Fortunately, the album turns around nicely with “Jonti”, an upbeat, staccato shift from the dream-like flow of Youth.
Although substance stretches thin at times, replaced instead by studio-enhanced sound, Youth is a safely-played showcase of dreamy, melodic synth-pop. It’s not risky, but it is beautiful. On this debut, Wild Cub gives us a soundtrack for our nostalgic tendencies.
Essential Tracks: “Colour”, “Thunder Clatter”