Back in 2011 Wolfgang Jay released their debut album and I was immediately taken by it. The songs were dark and brooding, but also easy to dance to. They celebrate the new wave along with early post-punk and classic rock. On paper it might not seem like it would work, but the talented musicians that make up the group seem to be capable of pretty much whatever they put their minds to.
Broken To Fit, the new album that just came out on May 18th, continues their genre-bending style. They’ve made improvements where they needed them; this new record is much more fluid. It feels almost like one long piece broken into pieces (hence the title?). Like their previous effort, the band wrote, produced, and at least partially engineered with help from David Mills and Caleb MacIlvaine. Keeping all the decision-making insular has helped them fully realize their original vision.
The first noise we hear on the record sounds a bit like a plane taking off, followed by a guitar plucking two notes and Ryan Wolfgang’s voice. It’s soon joined by Jason Ryan’s Morricone-like riff. Those familiar with WJ’s last album will recognize the sound of the vocals: not out front and not quite buried, they tiptoe above the mix. This production choice gives the listener a couple options: you can listen passively and just enjoy the music, which is great, or you can listen more actively and catch every word.
Unlike most albums, Broken To Fit gets better as you get further down the track list. For me, it really hits a stride when “Atmospheric” starts. It’s a synthy 80’s throwback that perfectly captures the sound they’ve been developing over the past few years. It owes a lot to Duran Duran, almost like a tribute to their work.
The following track has a bit of a Pink Floyd streak with the galloping rhythm guitar and baritone vocals pitted against the swirling motion of the lead. Fitting that the song is called “Leave It On The Wall.”
I’m a big fan of Wolfgang Jay, and Broken To Fit does nothing but provide more examples of how good they are. They just played a record release show this weekend which I had to miss, but I’ve seen them play before and they put on a really fun show. You can purchase the new album from Bandcamp for $8. It’s also streaming on Spotify, along with their first record And We Move. I highly recommend both.