Wildlife – ‘…On The Heart’

Review by Tim Martin

Certain music seems to play well with constantly changing landscapes. They are fast-paced tracks that scurry by like rowdy children. Best listened to driving on a highway through the mountains, on a sailboat caught by a squall, or reading The Arrival by Shaun Tan. …On The Heart is an album of leaving, moving, shaking, and breaking. The musicality is a reckless adventure, one in which you are never sure whether Dean Povinsky will be able to keep singing. Both because of his relentless belting, and the obvious fractures like thin fingers across the songwriter’s exposed heart.

It wasn’t until I heard of their formative stint touring around Glasgow that I understood Wildlife!’s Scot-rock tendencies. Despite the home base of Toronto, they appear to be bedded down in the same musical soil that produced bands like Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. Particular highlights would be indie-pop anthem “Born to Ruin,” complete with a repeating hazy distorted guitar riff, heavy snares, and a shouting/singing vocal backdrops, the brighter electric noodling and charismatic build of “Lightning Tent,” and the string-laced “Bonnie.”

Any artist with the default setting of fortissimo needs to work hard to provide dynamic changes and subtleties, leaving room for resounding crescendos. …On the Heart features a number of synth-led tracks that function as a deep breath between the cardiovascular workouts that many of the songs become. They begin with “If It Breaks,” a beautiful shimmering minimalist reverberation, which leads perfectly into the album. “(Arrythmia)” and “(Pulse)” provide a similar respite, without taking away from any of the album’s powerful emotional feel and rhythmic momentum.

So hop onboard, the sails are bursting with wind, the sun shimmers on the water, and the land is whipping by. Catch your breath, feel your heartbeat, and listen well because this voyage will reward your ears.