Wild Animals by Trampled by Turtles seems like the soundtrack to the life of the average misfit. The desperate lyrics and gloomy melodies tell the story of a life of that comes up short but continues to hope for something better.
The band’s latest album contains a lot of peaks and valleys. The group sounds significantly less like a bluegrass band and more like a less-commercialized Mumford and Sons. The title track “Wild Animals” is centered around echoing “Ooohs” and reverberated, panning rhythms.
The album brightens up significantly on the next two tracks. The third track, “Repetition,” attempts to be ironic with a refrain at the end of the song, “Over and over again.” Nice try, fellas. The album continues on to “Are You Behind the Shining Star?” which differs significantly from the opening tracks. If Trampled by Turtles is trying to pioneer a punk folk movement, the band has a good start here.
“Silver Light” returns to simplistic guitar rhythms and banjo and mandolin leads. If the band picked up the tempo a bit, the song might be a foot stomper at the end of the night in any bar. Instead, the song about the highly original concept of “being alone in the big, bad world” sounds like any other song heard at a local coffee shop’s open mic night.
The band tries to pick up the tempo on the next track but overshoots it. “Come Back Home” has lightning-fast banjo picking and a quick 1-2 drum beat, but the lyrics droning over the fast-paced rhythm feels disconnected and sounds like two different songs playing at the same time. “Ghosts” and “Lucy” almost blend together- both are melancholy songs about failed relationships. The band tries to come back again on “Western World,” but does not succeed. Lead singer Dave Simonett simply doesn’t have a voice for the style.
The saving grace of the album comes before the closing track. “Nobody Knows” has more of a laid back, country western feel and features some commendable mandolin work from Erik Berry and a tasty fiddle solo from Ryan Young. The track sounds like the band is having fun playing music. The closing track “Winners” features thoughtful coming-of-age lyrics. Of all the tracks on the album, the band sounds the most confident on this one.
Wild Animals is not a great album. The first nine tracks are easily forgettable, but Trampled by Turtles comes through with the final two tracks. Pass on the album as a whole, but be thankful iTunes allows users to download singles and give “Nobody Knows” and “Winners” a listen.