WL is a Portland-based group consisting of varying artists by project. This time, Misty Mary takes the lead with light and airy vocals within spacey production. Driven by an apparent passion for experimentation, the group has worked in a variety of styles: from jazzy indie rock on 2013’s Hold to reflective experimentation on 2016’s Light Years. On their latest album, ADHD, the band keeps up this trend of shifting style with flowing, ambient electronic music.
On ADHD, WL’s style is reminiscent of projects like Beach House. Unfortunately, many of these similarities are to the detriment of WL. Much of ADHD sounds like music we’ve heard other projects do before and better. “Water’s On My Side” holds a pleasant enough palette of dotting synth and reverb-laden vocals, but the song sounds almost entirely like a less impressive version of a Titanic Rising track. This haunts the rest of the project. While no song is particularly bad, their meandering run-times, without substantive ambient refinements, along with their lack of unique cores, make the album generally unexciting.
Though struggling to form a compelling or unique thesis, WL’s latest does have some good elements. The title track, for example, features mystifying synth that succeeds in creating an abstract and sometimes beautiful world. Other entries find similar success in better-developed structure and more engaging melodies, but Mary’s cliche vocals regularly distract from this potential. Overall, ADHD is frustrating. Without compelling or new ideas, the album’s stronger points are hard to get excited about. Worse, Mary’s lyrics suggest emotional insight and solid writing that could flourish within a stronger body of sounds. But ultimately, ADHD doesn’t do its lyrics (or album art, for that matter) justice.