Album Review: Hugs And Kisses and Other Things
A journey to the unknown, without fear. This sense of freedom and courage manifests itself via an edgy road trip on Wild Powwers’ sophomore full-length Hugs And Kisses And Other Things. The dust, grit, and sand are almost tangible from one song to the next, the momentum of the album like a rugged truck blazing through the wild, Wild Powwers, in the driver’s seat and all you need to do is hold on tight.
Although the band is heavily influenced by Seattle signature grunge sound, they’ve powered everything up with punk, and tempered it with gorgeously layered vocals. “Party Song” utilizes a firm distorted bass that grips the entire song together. Bassist Jordan Gomes really cooperated with the drummer, Lupe Flores, to mend the track in a cohesive way. Both made sure the energy of the track is consistent and steady, while the guitar/singer Lara Hilgemann flies away with exciting guitar solos and dreamy vocals. This duality of control and chaos depicts perfectly what being drunk at a party is like as Hilgemann sings, “I’m so wasted, I’m so Wasted, Wasted!” It ultimately conveys the sense of confusion, excitement and disorientation gravitating above the desire to stabilize oneself.
“Wanderer” builds up gradually, starting off with a feeling of looking across the horizon before embarking on a journey. As the song progresses, the guitar and bass push the track forward with crushing rhythm. The vocal layering gives the track a breath of fresh air, lifting it from the consistency. There’s a slow progression from one point to another, giving each section of the song a different scene. It continues on until the entire song descends into chaos and effects.
The album’s most standout track, “Ghosting,” is all sorts of sound effects and design. The guitar and bass start out clean without any distortion in the track, thus allowing for plenty of transparency for additional guitar effects and heavily padded reverb/delayed vocals. The sound design really adds a sense of the eerie and the ethereal to the track, and when the chorus hits, the only distortion is from the guitars. Given that most of the songs on the album are energetic and distorted, this reversed structure is almost as if an illusionary veil is lifted off of the track during the chorus.
The Ballard trio recently wrapped up an opening role on tour with The Fall Of Troy and Kylesa, but will get back on the road supporting this solid second release, including stops as SXSM and Savannah Stopover Fest.
Homecoming/album release show Friday, April 8, at the Sunset with The Young Evils.
Review by Kai-Yao Lan