Wampire – Curiosity
If Wampire took themselves seriously, then they could conquer the world. Or at least that part of the world where indie-labeled, organ-led, guitar-backed songs rule. Let’s take the band name. Wampire? What demographic is that trying to appeal to? Lovers of the blood-sucking undead with a speech defect? And then there’s the album cover. Choosing a silly band name is one thing, but blatantly drawing attention to it is another. So, the bottom line is that if Wampire can’t themselves seriously, then we shouldn’t either, right? Wrong! This is a great album. Produced by Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wampire are fishing in the same pond as luminaries such as Tame Impala, Foxygen, Ariel Pink, and UMO themselves. The pond isn’t deep, but at the moment it’s teeming with life. And, like their counterparts, Wampire are landing some fine catches. One of things that makes the album work is that the playfulness pretty much ends with the name and the cover. The first few seconds of ‘The Hearse’ are deliberately over-the-top mock gothic and then there’s the cheesy rhyming of words like ‘insay-yane’ on ‘Trains’. But, there are no unlistenable sonic experiments that sound good in theory but bad in practice, or ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’-like pastiches that are both bad in theory and in practice. Instead, there are just some fine songs. ‘Orchards’ and ‘Spirit Forest’ are totally hummable. ‘I Can’t See Why’ is full of energy. And what’s nice is that Wampire are not afraid to mix things up in the song. ‘The Hearse’ starts off as great rhythmic number, only to slow down and then build up again to a great finish. ‘Giants’ is the heaviest track, but it too changes pace nicely. At about 33 minutes, though, this is a pretty slight album. And ‘Snacks’, the penultimate track, is an instrumental and sounds like a B-side if there were B-sides any more. That said, it’s good just to hear Wampire at their newest and most excited. Next time, though, think about the cover.