Wallows defy boundaries of music production in new ‘Remote’ EP
November 17, 2020 | Luiza Loyo
Illustration by Norman Zeng
In the wake of the release of their new EP, Wallows hosted a listening party on Zoom with 1000 lucky fans. While explaining the making of the album, drummer Cole Preston said, “We didn’t see each other once during the creation of this thing. This is how we made it. This Zoom call is a representation of how we made Remote.”
The band, made up of Preston, Dylan Minnette (lead vocalist) and Braeden Lemasters (lead guitarist) recorded their vocals on their phones and produced the EP entirely from a distance, which gave it the self-explanatory title of Remote. Because of the group’s limitations, the new record is not as polished as their previous work but it accomplishes what it sets out to do— show that the band can take their music in different directions and bring some fun to fans in a stressful time.
The EP starts off with Virtual Aerobics, a mellow and colorful track that strays from the band’s grungy and indie-rock sound. The song has a clear pop influence which makes it catchy but also presents some undertones of ‘80s music. It speaks of love and the feeling of wanting to impress someone, with lyrics such as “Wanna dress in what makes you like me / I'll probably overwear these Nikes.” Aerobics was the first track released off the project and along with it, a music video of the band members dancing along to a retro virtual aerobics video, which seems to be a nod to the bit of ‘80s influence the song has. With a green screen behind them, corny karaoke-like landscapes go by as the members try to dance along and copy the aerobics moves—a concept that reflects the simplicity and fun of a quarantine project.
The following track Dig What You Dug is the most similar to the sound of their debut album Nothing Happens which drew in most of their following; it is guitar-focused and contains elements of rock. The band had assistance from The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. for the song, whose voice is featured at the end saying “I dig what you dug / And I dug what you dig.” Influence from The Strokes and similar bands can be heard throughout the whole album, like in Wish Me Luck. But in Dig, it is paired with electronic music, giving it a unique edge.
Lyrically, the EP does not present Wallows’ best material. The songs circle around relationships, love, and heartbreak without much depth or any memorable moments. It seems as if the focus of the project was not the writing but experimenting with different genres and breaking out of the indie-rock box the band has been in since the start of their career.
Illustration by Norman Zeng
Coastlines is the highlight of the album, a vibrant track that approaches long-distance relationships and being away from a loved one. The lyrics say “I don't wanna think about it / When we're on different coastlines,” referencing the desperation of not knowing what your partner is thinking or feeling while you are apart. The theme of the song seems to resonate with all of the band members, but especially lead vocalist Dylan Minnette, whose current girlfriend, Lydia Knight, is also in a band, The Regrettes. This means the couple deals with two different touring schedules and a lot of separation. This track drifts towards Wallows’ indie side with a more mellow tone and a big focus on vocals.
Talk Like That is another highlight, its high-energy and catchy chorus are guaranteed to have people dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. Then, Nobody Gets Me (Like You) is a cheesy love song that still manages to be sweet. It would be perfect for a drive with the windows down. Also noteworthy are the transitions in between tracks, so smooth at times you barely notice another song has started playing. In between the last few songs, a crackling noise can be heard as if a person is switching through radio stations.
Remote is a modern EP in many ways. The limitations of a global pandemic forced Wallows, as well as many other bands and artists, to push the boundaries of technology and produce an entire record away from the studio. It is an impressive product if you take its context into consideration. It doesn’t live up to their previous album Nothing Happens and their first EP Spring, it was never meant to. The project symbolizes a break from the band’s usual sound, an opportunity for not only the fans to have fun in a stressful time, but the band as well.