Cousins – The Halls of Wickwire

Review by Dan Empringham

Leigh and Aaron of Cousins are back with a new record The Halls of Wickwire. Wickwire brings a brash and straight ahead sound that is catered to a summer of sticky car rides and rooftop hangs. Wickwire offers up riffs-a-plenty with a stronger, fuller guitar tone coming from Aaron Mangle. His use of effects start and stop with distortion and vibrato, giving Link Wray a run for his money.

With help from producers Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and Josh Korody (Beliefs), Wickwire splashes with the high end and clarity that their 2012 release The Palm at the End of the Mind lacked. Songs such as “Other Ocean” and its sister song “Ocean” have a clear idea in mind, push the fucking beat and give the listener what they want; hit after hit. Walsh also helping out on keys can be heard scattered through the record bringing a nice rounded tone to some of the ballads (see At Odds), and with Leigh having a stronger vocal presence, on “Alone” for example, it gives the pair an advantage against other power grunge duos ala The Pack A.D and Japandroids.

The stand out track on the record has to be “Alone”, it begins with the duo playing off each other, Leigh’s snare hitting only on the end of the bar just sneaking around Aaron’s strums. Aaron’s lyrics playing off the major chord structure in the chorus, giving juxtaposition that great composers are known for (Chad VanGaalen and Jeff Tweedy). By the end of the song the duo are synched in and race to the end leaving us with a refrain that leaves a sense of motivation rather than cynicism “No one should be alone” .

Wickwire, gives us what we want at this time of year, a short, trustworthy record that allows you to push play, have fun and sing along with the windows down.