Album Review: Sunday Afternoon by The Wilderness
Warm confidence that doesn’t overstep its boundaries, fall flat, or whine away.
Oh boy, here comes the typical anxiety of diving into a friend’s band’s record for the first time. “What compliments do I need to make up? Will I even make it through to the end? Can they see through my lies?” In this case I’m at an even more precarious point — The Wilderness have been around and playing shows since very early this year, and even though I’m pretty good friends with one of the members and have met all of the others by now… I still haven’t made it out to a live show. I know, for shame.
The indie-folk-rock quartet have been cutting their teeth in and around the limestone city for over half a year playing pedestrian promenades, busker bandstands, and dingy hideaway drinking holes but I’ve yet to make an appearance at any of them. That being said, the strappy little group are faring quite well on their own. After releasing their tidy little debut EP in their hometown of Kingston, The Wilderness are about to set off on an extensive tour, capping with a triumphant return to local bars and even a festival or two. But how is that EP, exactly?
Well, I’ll spoil the facade right now just for the sake of moving forward — it’s good. Right from the get-go, and keeping in mind that Sunday Afternoon was quite literally recorded in a Sunday afternoon marathon session live off the floor, I was impressed. Opening track ‘No Surprise’ begins the short five song romp nice and easy, fitting the name quite appropriately and carrying a similar theme throughout the entire sub-30 minute runtime. Each and every song is unassuming and inoffensive in a warm and subtly humble way — this is obviously a group still cutting their teeth in the recording studio, but there’s no faulting them for remaining well within the figurative line. While the band’s presence wasn’t overtly strong (only ‘The Silence’, the album’s slowest and most quiet piece, ever felt slightly hollow), there was still a confident stride that drove the tracks forward. This confidence was especially found in the incredibly powerful lead and backing group vocals — a YouTube comment describes, “like an emo singer song writer kid with a shade of grunge and a shot of whiskey,” and that description was so hilariously pointed I just had to include it. A really wicked strolling lead guitar that meandered all over the place in a soothing lilt, especially highlighted during the transitions of ‘Motown’, topped off the cool and calm confidence that The Wilderness ooze on most of this album.
While the songwriting wasn’t very imaginative and far from anything worth writing home about, I can also appreciate the honest simplicity far more than any ham-handed attempt full of shitty song clichés 101. Contemplative but not whiny, the lyrics don’t boast a strong presence but definitely have reassuring room for improvement — something I’ve come to expect from new bands with so much growing left to do. The mixing itself, handled by Zane of North of Princess Studios, was exceptionally bright and warm. I found myself vigorously bobbing along to tracks that would’ve normally been slower than my usual style, which is often my common complaint about albums outside my typical genre range. I was honestly expecting to make many more criticisms, but regardless of the steps that The Wilderness may need to take, their first offering is a fantastic step out of the gate that effectively teases what is hopefully coming soon.
Verdict: If you’re looking for some serious up-and-coming local talent, there’s no need to continue your search. The Wilderness honestly have the potential to be Kingston’s next big thing — you only need to visit their Bandcamp page to see for yourself.