Despite being together for like a decade at this point, playing under different names, and releasing very little material; Wallows doesn’t hesitate to release a duo of singles only a few months after their first full-length LP, Nothing Happens. Wallows is an indie-pop/rock project based in LA, whose vocalist and rhythm-guitarist you may know from the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why.
I stumbled upon Wallows, as I received an early copy of their last release while still working for Wildcat 91.9, and was pleasantly surprised. Prior to my listening of said album, I had heard nothing of them, and didn’t have any expectations at that point, so I was pretty blown away. Their relatable, young-adult-centered lyrics reminded me of something from the 90’s alt-rock scene, which drew me in. But they managed to throw in a bit of 80’s themes as well; particularly in their music videos; along with the production of a newer indie-rock band (which of course they are). The collaboration of several alternative rock genres blended well in my opinion, and the songwriting carried them to an eventual 8 from me. So I was definitely excited to hear how they approached these next two tracks.
As “Trust Fall” started off, my initial thoughts, about 10 seconds in, were “Haven’t I heard this before?” which is probably not the greatest sign. Upon further analysis, I think it has an incredibly similar vibe to “Worlds Apart,” from their last release. The backing drum beat is almost identical in pitch and tempo, and while the chords on this are less heavy and more vibrant, the layering causes it to effectively do the same thing. But sadly, the main difference between the two tracks is at least “Worlds Apart” develops into something, and in my opinion, has better lyrics.
While I suppose “Trust Fall” does build up a little bit, it’s really only in the form of an additional guitar riff jumping on, before an eventual, semi-triumphant bridge that I guess accomplishes the purpose of a chorus or something. But they pretty much rinse and repeat this process twice, making a song that doesn’t really change up the tempo, vibe, or emotion at all. In the end, it’s a dragging, plain indie-rock song, that doesn’t really portray the emotion created with its depressing, questioning lyrics due to its lack of effort in songwriting. Two good examples of songs like this done well were found in their last album, with “Worlds Apart,” and “Do Not Wait.” They turn into these agonizing ballads, but only with the help of the instruments. If I were to rate this track by itself, it’d probably be somewhere around a 3.
Luckily, I do think “Just Like A Movie” is a lot better in comparison. I’m once again uninterested by the opening instrumental, that is actually quite similar to that of “Trust Fall,” just without the drum beat to back it up. This start isn’t as bland in the whole context of the song, though. It allows the first verse to have this clear, emotional pop that gets your attention before the next one gets a rougher texture provided by this filtered guitar noise that eventually joins in. Then, after the first chorus, they do go into this weird electro section that isn’t necessarily the greatest thing I’ve heard from them, but it gives a bit of a different direction for the song to go in. The rest of the song kind of follows in this way, with a bit of a diversion where they repeat some of the chorus lines, but with a more emphasized percussion section.
I do also like the lyrics to the second track more, although not as much as many of their old songs. It goes back to the very cynical, relatable, outcast attitude held by many of their other tracks, but I think tries a little too hard to be emo with lines like “Everybody’s wasted, throwing away their lives.” So, while it does hit a lot closer to what I liked about their past material, it is still quite a bit off the mark. This track I think is just a much better version of the first one, and would probably be a worthwhile feature on their last release, if it found itself there. It wouldn’t make my top several songs, but it would be somewhere in the middle. I think I’d give this a 7 or a 6 depending on my attitude on the day.
As a whole, these singles didn’t impress me whatsoever, which makes me pretty sad. The overall sound they go for and genres they feature don’t really change, but they just sound like a more bland, basic version of themselves from earlier this year. Not every song on Nothing Happens was fantastic, but they each established themselves as their own, which went a long way into making it interesting and not stale. These two in many ways could come from a large amount of indie bands right now. Because of how average it is between the two, I’d collectively rate this collection a 5. I hope their future material gets much better before their next LP.