Real Numbers has been rocking the Minnesota scene for quite some time, pumping in there British Rock/Punk inspired, indie pop tunes. Their latest release, Wordless Wonder, releasing on Slumberland Records, is a throwback to the old days of twee. While the album doesn’t offer anything mind-blowingly new (most of it will be pretty predictable), it is phenomenal in other aspects. The sentimental aspects are superb.
Wordless Wonder isn’t a hit out of the ballpark, but, it is a very fantastic indie album –Wordless Wonder is sincere and full of character. The jangle of the guitar chords and characteristically low –barely intelligible –but still lovable and often emotional vocals stand out as a sort of pristine and true, honest crack at that classic twee sound. The drums are robust and lively –an often lackluster component in this sort of indie that adds so much to the music.
The album slams the pedal to the metal and starts with a burst of energy. “Frank Infatuation,” is a great way to start Wordless Wonder off. It’s jingle jangle guitar from the beginning with quick chords and a catchy vocal melody. The song sort of dances about in the guitar riffs and the percussion accompanies in an energetic and powerful way. It’s reminiscent of Another Sunny Day or similar old indie artists. The album persists on, the third track, adopting a quasi-punk vibe. “Just So Far Away,” is fast, a bit of the Dead Milkmen tucked in there –it’s rock and roll and it’s intense. The indie vibes still stay put and the song instead just demonstrates the variability of Real Numbers. It’s a great way to show the band off.
Although Wordless Wonder is in fact indie-twee music par excellence, it still fails to be inventive and hardly distinguishes itself from the other stars of this genre. It’s kind of a funny statement, ‘Oh it’s fantastic but it sounds like all the other fantastic stuff’. I don’t mean to take away from what Real Numbers presents to us, but rather just point to a little need for spice. I might as well have thought, “Oh look, somebody resurrected The Field Mice from the dead.” Real Numbers made a perfect album, but sadly, I might not remember it –because each melody will be lost to that unfortunate haze of a fading memory and time.
But if anyone asks; Slumberland Records still puts out a lot of great music, and, bringing Real Numbers on board just seems like such a natural fit. The band really proved themselves with Wordless Wonder and it seems unlikely anyone will be making anything remotely as rich and satisfying as this.
The album closes out on a great and energized ditty, and then a more mellowed out, appropriately titled finale. The ninth track, “Up & About,” is quick –not just in tempo but time. At less than two minutes, the song blows by with rapid guitar lines that at times feel surfy. The touch of solo guitar riff is pleasant. The whole thing feels a lot like ‘indie for Dick Dale impersonators’ and it’s absolutely dead-on in style and sound. Then comes the final track, “This Happy Sadness.” It’s simple and easy but digestible and oh so good. It’s the crisp guitar chords again and they stroke that sweet spot in the soul. In contrast to the previous track, it’s long (at least for the album) at nearly four minutes. This maybe seems like a minor detail to be ignored, but, listening to some sentimental lines and predictable guitar chords, and pushing it to four minutes is potentially questionable. It still seems as if the song holds out well though and truthfully, I couldn’t get enough. The song comes to an end, and like the chorus, the vocalist sings out, “This happy sadness,” which seems –fourth wall breaking –I was happy to hear such a wonderful album but sad for it to end.
Real Numbers exceeded the expectations and not only ought to, but needs to give its new fans a proper follow up. Wordless Wonder is the album I’ve been itching for –for quite some time. The guitar melodies are beautiful, with a poppy and jangly sound. The vocals aren’t too forward and often reminiscent of the early twee days. The percussion is dead on and every hit feels meaningful. The music, quite appropriately, lacks anything too intricate while still sending out a series of chords that sound interesting if not at least catchy. Listen with a lover, listen by yourself –as the season settles in, Real Numbers is here with Wordless Wonder to provide a theme to your fall time romantic-antics.