by Andrew Garrison
Right before Halloween the New England/Cali/Northwest outfit Quiet Life released their first new album in two years, Wild Pack and it is utterly sublime. Wild Pack, running a mere 32 minutes in length, Quite Life masterfully expresses what life on the road is like. Songs range in tempo, instruments, tone and occasionally explicated geographic location (e.g. “San Luis Obispo” and “New London”). Each song seems to provide its own little slice of Americana, coming together to create an album that you can listen to over and over.
We lead off with one of the strongest tracks on the album, “Record Time.” The track sets the vagabond type of tone for the album, explicitly singing about hitting the road to Ohio, to “free my troubled mind.” We also get a fair amount of pining over a lost lover, which will be visited again throughout the album. All of the masterful lyrics are paired with a powerful drumbeat, and groovy guitar rifts.
If we have any baseball fans out there, “Record Time” got on base with a well hit single. “Devin’s Kin” slapped a liner to the corner for a base-clearing-standup-triple. If you thought that that last sentence was utter nonsense, let me simply say that “Devil’s Kin” kills it, for lack of a better term. With very uptempo guitars, pounding and building drums, culminating in crashing cymbals for the chorus, and a near drawl of vocals, “Devil’s Kin” could be mistaken for a song off a forthcoming Lou Reed commemorative Velvet Underground release.
“San Luis Obispo” comes in hard and fast with a whole lot of swagger provided by a strong harmonica line, of course. The general upbeat-ness of the song, as well as the number of times you hear titular town makes “San Luis Obispo” the poppiest song on the album. But it only runs 2:38, so don’t let that deter you. “Wild Pack” broods with emotion, this time with a more conventional utilization of the harmonica to set a very somber, southern rock tune. “Come on, Come back” is a very well executed sway-a-long about how pretty young girls aren’t all they are cracked up to be (I don’t necessarily buy it). “Skin and Bones” brings that twangy indie folk vibe in spades. The constant banjo strumming, lyrics about doggies and literal howling in the make this everything you would need for some good ole fashioned twang, reminiscent of 2011’s Big Green.
The best overall song on this album is in my opinion “New London”. “New London” is a remarkably entertaining and energetic ballad, running nearly seven minutes long. Organs and keys accent the story-esque portions of the song, while harmonicas provide the audio paragraph breaks, if you will. Added percussion hop in just when the story seems to be heating up.
Following “New London” Wild Pack winds down with “Losin’ all of my common sense”, a fun, high-energy tune with nearly tribal sounding drums and very clever lyrics. To end the album we have the wordless, minute long “Low Blues” a rambling little diddy with some funky guitar play.
Wild Pack invokes the spirit of the road, and the women you’ll find/leave because of it. It is a phenomenally well executed album that drives with steady drums and funky guitars. After listening to Wild Pack as many times as I have today I want to hop into my car and head to California or Portland or wherever. As long as I got gas and this album on repeat, I’ll be alright.