Upper Wilds


Rock is inherently cathartic. Tension and release are built in, but there’s something that goes above and beyond the norm on Upper Wilds’ Venus. The songs crackle with an electricity that’s absorbed into every part of the body. As soon as the album hits the speakers, every particle in the listener is compressed and then exploded outward. Time around the listener slows and it seems like anything might be possible, at least while the chaotic fizz of guitars and drums lash the air around us. Dan Friel has long been a master of noise pop, but this may well be his defining statement. This is the shining spirit of what Upper Wilds has been all along. The spirit is brightened all the more on Venus as its an exploration of and celebration of love, each song simply titled “Love Song #1-10”

In that regard Dan has captured the giddy, sugar-rush of infatuation and the headswum euphoria of connection in ten compact jolts to the endocrine system. The songs are constantly building, constantly waiting for the letdown and it doesn’t often come. Upper Wilds present love as mania rather than tender moments. There’s a feeling that the brain and body can’t sustain that kind of high for so long, and he gives us a few moments to let the sweat and adrenaline seep out into the air between #3 and #4, but just seconds later we’re launched back into a finger-tapped tempest of sleeveless tee riffs, juggernaut drum fills, and fuzz-wracked vocals that leave a taste of aspartame and metal in the mouth.

With doors for connection increasingly closed lately, this record feels like a coming togeteh, even if you’re alone in the room listening to it. From the first moment, the first notes, the record transports us all to hot basement show pits, to 2 AM house party second waves, and to whichever packed mass of humanity you’ve been missing lately. Friel maps the shape of love’s entrancing hold, but in the same record he’s also makes the case for friendship’s bonds and a case for living in the moment, no matter how hard it seems to hold onto those moments before they slip from grasp. The record is a dizzying oblivion, but never one that feels daunting. This is the record you need for 2021 to strip away the layers of soul chipping over the last year. I say keep it on repeat for a while.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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