Jack Tatum, the one-man lo-fi mastermind behind Wild Nothing, sounds like he’s still living through the Reagan years. The songs collected on his Captured Tracks debut, Gemini, are able and reverent appropriations of 80s post-punk, new wave, and dream-pop influences– from the Cocteau Twins’ hazy minor-key fantasias, to Johnny Marr’s elided guitar work in the Smiths, to OMD’s twinkling-synth balladry. Even the blogged-about cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” that’s streaming on Tatum’s MySpace sounds faithful to the point of outright deference. But instead of coming across as just another musically capable scenester ripping off already tired reference points, Tatum’s bedroom dreamscapes sound more like a teenager sincerely trying to pay homage to the artists he most dearly regards.
On Gemini standout “Summer Holiday”, Tatum makes a slight songwriting detour, turning his (shoe)gaze to the sort of C86-indebted pop that like-minded revivalists the Pains of Being Pure at Heart worship. The strummy, Slumberland-sounding guitar chords are present and accounted for, as are the deceptively simple timekeeping and twin-guitar bridge breakdown that mark this particular strain of indie-pop. Tatum’s lovelorn lyrical concerns fall in line nicely with twee’s aims as well, as he warns a supposed crush not to “let me wreck myself again,” before promising that he’s “driving to your parents’ house/ Just want to visit/ And I’m sleeping in your brother’s bed.” His later admittance that he really wants to “sneak into my room/ And crawl under the covers” further establishes a time-honored teenage sense of terror by way of complete retreat.
So Jack Tatum is an able revivalist, and he’s done his homework with this stuff– but “Summer Holiday” rises above mere pastiche thanks to the song’s hair-raising chorus, which consists solely of Tatum’s wordless, cavernous moan. It’s a left-turn that grabs your attention sneakily and makes you forget any allegations of unoriginality that might be lobbed his way– let’s just hope he has more of those up his sleeve. – Pitchfork
Tracklist: Summer Holiday / Vultures Like Lovers
Captured Tracks CT-035