I told Wolfgang Jay I’d write up their record a while ago, and I never got to it. I’ve been busy switching from the blog I used to write for to my own, and there have been a few things lost in the shuffle (Missing Chums, I’m looking at you). But there’s been a lingering interest on my part to review this record, whether they realize I’m still doing it or not. I’ve been thinking about And We Move more and more as Wolfgang’s show at Beat Kitchen approaches quickly.
What keeps me coming back to this record over and over (and over) is the balance Wolfgang Jay finds between 80’s synth rock and early 00’s dance rock. My description of the band would go as follows: Imagine if you will a world in which We Are Scientists gave up writing original music, and became a Depeche Mode cover band. You can substitute a lot of bands for WAS in that analogy, but the only other band I can think of off the top of my head is Hot Chip. It’s that kind of deliberately paced dance rock that drives you insane becuase you want to explode, but the music restrains itself.
Most of the time, anyway. There are definitely moments of complete “geek-out” dance moments, but they aren’t as constant as, say, LCD Soundsystem‘s “Dance Yrslf Clean.” The most successful song on the record, in my mind, is “Walker.” It’s a bit like Ratatat with vocals that play with a bit of reverb, increasing their haunting quality. It’s a great song to take a stroll with.
There’s a lot of great stuff throughout And We Move, but the most consistently pleasing thing is Ryan Wolfgang’s vocals. He has that quality that some baritone’s lack, which is a bit of a sweetness. Mark Lanegan pulls off this style really well, and I think Ryan is gonna pick up the torch from the former Screaming Trees frontman. Never is this more apparent than on the soft xylophone-led track, “Both of Us.”
That quiet, contemplative track is followed by one of the danciest songs on the record, and maybe one of the danciest songs I’ve heard all year: “Seven Sisters.” Heavy on the synths and drums, it’s a full-on assualt of the senses. It definitely makes me wanna pull out the full-body dry heave I call dancing. I dare you not to get at least a little bouncy with this one.
I really think this record had me pegged from the start. I’ve never been a fan of The Cure, but for some reason I’m a big fan of bands that say they were influenced by Robert Smith. If I had to ask Wolfgang Jay to name five influences, The Cure would be one of them (disclaimer: I actually don’t know this for a fact, so if it isn’t true I’m sorry and I agree-The Cure sucks). The album really does scream 80’s nostalgia for me, which is fantastic. When done well, this kind of homage can be the thing that sets a band apart from similar groups.
And Wolfgang Jay definitely set themselves apart. This is the first local album I’ve heard this year that I’ve wanted to listen to again and again (that isn’t by Smith Westerns). And We Move is at once completely original and always conscious of those that came before. If you’re a fan of any of the bands I’ve mentioned throughout this piece, I would definitely recommend picking up this release.
And, if you’re interested (I know I am) Wolfgang Jay will be playing their official Celebration show for And We Move on May 12th at Beat Kitchen. Show starts at 10 pm. To preview their music and download the record, head over to their bandcamp page.