Abbotsford’s resident rockers are back from an almost four-year-long release drought, and they’ve brought new music with them.
“Weeks,” the first single Little Wild released in anticipation of BODIES, which officially comes out on March 16, gave listeners an updated version of what Little Wild had offered before: blues-based, screech-laden, balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n’ roll.
And while the obvious comparisons between frontman Layton Keely and Jack White invariably come up when discussing Little Wild, on BODIES, the band proves it has the capacity to both refine its staple material, and grow beyond the limitations of its monochromatic early work. On BODIES, there’s more of everything.
“Mongo,” an early track on the record, is an example of how over-the-top Little Wild can be. They’re a conventional band in the sense that what we get from them is rock ‘n’ roll (although it might be argued that that makes them unconventional these days), but where they leave the realm of the mundane is in their devotion to the theatrical, the excessive.
One of the band’s biggest leaps forward on BODIES is a result of their broadening of the palette used throughout the record to include surf-rock and more moody iterations of the blues they so staunchly base themselves on. Tracks like “DEL” are much more surf-rock influenced than the band’s earlier work, and while they wisely chose to sparingly drill the early-rock back catalog for influences, the most striking element of the track comes by way of Keely’s vocals, which lean much more towards the crooning rhythm and blues songs that took up airwaves in the ‘70s. It’s an odd mix of genres that works exceptionally well. The takeaway being Little Wild’s evolution from their garage-rock roots to a sound that’s much less simplistic in the way that it’s presented. It seems Little Wild’s members are much more aware of specific elements that a bass or drum line can add to a track, and that awareness rounds the record out.
While not all the tracks on BODIES are put together with as much awareness as “DEL,” most are more ambitious than Little Wild’s earlier work, built, it seems, with much more than just a main riff in mind.
Except of course for “Jam,” which is just that — a jam. While most jams are fun, but ultimately aimless, this track shows off a much less focused Little Wild. Riffs are slower, there’s more space between them, distortion picks up a lot of the slack. And it works, the track’s a nice little bridge between the start of the record and its tail-end.
“Things” ties the record off with as big of a bang as “Weeks” started it off with. While lately Abbotsford’s favourite flavour of rock has been more experimental (I’m looking at you, Blessed and Villain Villain) and punk in nature, BODIES marks the triumphant, thundering return of one of Abbotsford’s most veteran bands.
And what an earth-shattering return it is.