Following a spoken prologue, Across the Board’s new album Wild Ones bursts into fluorescent flames in its title track, effectively reaching through our speakers and inviting us into their dreamy world of graceful melodies and loveably contemplative lyrics. Living up to its title, “Wild Ones” throttles us in a hundred different directions using its vacuum-like vortex of grooves, and by the time that the bubbly “Monster” comes trouncing out of the darkness, trying to get our heartbeats unsynchronized from the burgeoning beats is next to impossible. In this song, the hook literally sinks into our chest and imparts an emotional harmony that will induce chills even in the most cursory of listens. The heat emanating from the bass is as strong as what I’d expect to find on the surface of the sun, but it’s only a taste of what’s to come in the following five tracks.
“Eye of the Storm” slows down the breakneck dance tempo of the last track and churns out an uncaged melody in its chorus that is as gorgeous as an undisturbed mountain lake in the apex of autumn. The rhythm pendulously sways us back and forth, but there’s an urgency in the lyrics that is keeping us on edge from beginning to end here. “Calling” breaks up the tension significantly, and washes away any of the angst left over from the first couple of songs in a sheer sonic swing tempered by a light vocal from behind a stoically strummed guitar.
The godlike balladry of “Calling” primes us for the exotic elegance of “All Gone,” but only to a point. To be honest, I don’t know that anything could properly prepare listeners for the infectious groove that this track discharges at the onset of its first few verses, and if this doesn’t become one of the most requested songs on any future tour that Across the Board embarks on, I would be incredibly surprised. It finds an equally calculated counterpart in “Graffiti” that doesn’t hold back from indulging in a blues-spiked melodicism, but all of this intensity, all of the emotion and all of this harmonious discord builds up to a dynamic climax in Wild Ones’ closing track, “Alpha Wolf.”
“Alpha Wolf” creeps out of the shadows of “Graffiti” and attempts to smother us with every last melodic weapon at the disposal of the band. Even after I listened to this record all the way through a couple of times, I still found myself coming back to this song and analyzing its haunting construction, and to be fair, I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of its enigmatic design. The same can be said of all the songs that are to be discovered by audiences this March on Wild Ones, and whether you’re familiar with Across the Board’s music or not, it’s a release that I can wholly endorse as a phenomenal acquisition for any experimental rock enthusiast. For those who haven’t heard this band’s work before, I think that it’s a great jumping off point in understanding their amazing artistry, and for those who have been following them since the beginning, it’s the watershed effort that we all knew they would one day treat us to.