Amazing Baby are the latest band to emerge from the creative hub of New York that is Brooklyn. Their story is more incestuous than most – as well as springing from the same scene as the likes of Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer, they also studied at Wesleyan University with MGMT and Chairlift. Founding member Simon O’Connor was even in a band with MGMT, by the curious name of Misogynistic Pineapple.
So if you’re expecting a spacey synth-rock album with some touches of prog and some very odd song titles – you’re in luck. Amazing Baby plough the same furrow as their old college mates, but with a more straight-ahead rock approach. Opening track Bayonets sums up their sound best – swathes of synths, killer tempo changes, and sweeping strings leading up to a chorus which just begs up to bounce up and down and pump your fist into the air.
Rewild is lushly produced (sometimes bringing to mind Super Furry Animals) and each song seems to be bursting with invention. Take Kankra, for example, which seems to have about five different time signatures, pounding drums, Jarvis Cocker-style vocals, and even throws a touch of Bollywood soundtrack in there. The Narwhal even goes all folk-rock, sounding like a hidden track from Led Zep 3 at best, and a Tenacious D out-take at worst.
And therein lies the problem with Rewild. When they’re focused, they produce some damn good pop music – as the fantastic Headdress proves, employing a melody which manages to be both wistful and aggressive. Yet their insistence on cramming as much as possible into each track means that the quality of the song suffers – take Dead Light which meanders along before eventually petering out.
It doesn’t help either that some songs are stronger than other, leading to a slightly inconsistent listen. Smoke Bros is excellent, bursting into a handclap-fuelled chorus of “we are starving cannibals”, but it’s preceded by the unremarkable Roverfrenz, which sounds rather like Mercury Rev in search of a tune. Similarly, Old Tricks In Hell leads expertedly up to a blissful chorus, but that’s followed by the twee and somewhat irritating The Narwhal.
There’s also the feeling that, in this rather fickle world, maybe Amazing Baby’s time is already behind them. What would have sounded fresh and intriguing a year ago, now inevitably sounds like a tired copy. The lack of a killer song – their version of a Time To Pretend, if you will – only adds to that impression.
Maybe that’s unfair. After all, it’s not their fault that their contemporaries achieved success before they did. Besides, without being exceptional, Rewild is a decent debut album with enough promise to justify keeping a watchful eye for the future.