Back in 2006 Jake Vertin and Jacob Lauing were only 12 years old and apparently already releasing material they recorded together. While they are still very young men, they have continued their musical aspirations together under the moniker The Wonderlife and recently released their self-titled album The Wonderlife. The music that they play feels completely recognizable as if they were a culmination of 100 indie rock bands that got truncated down to this band. I don’t mean for that to be a negative assessment. In fact their sound will most likely appeal to a large number of people because of it.
The vocal work isn't particularly distinct but at the same time it is attractive. There is a commercial aspect to the vocals that is hard to define. It sounds like voices you would hear on the station that played popular music. There are a couple of moments on this album that displayed the duo’s creativity as well as chemistry together. It was obvious after listening to the album that the guys put their heart and soul into this project.
The album starts with “Dana,” which is an impressive instrumental number that displays some inventive guitar work. It isn't technically mind-blowing but it was a nice collage of different rhythms, nuances and subtleties that made it work. “Forever In My Mind” is a relatively catchy song that avoids cliché lyrics. The vocalist sings, “It was her birthday but the present was mine The look on her face forever in my mind It was a pretty face with a California taste.”
“Novalis” is one of the highlights of the album and has a good arrangement that displays some of the future potential the band has. The band’s best moments on the song are when they deviate and rely on reverb-laced vocal harmonies, mimicking guitar progressions and a transitional build up. “Paradise” is a solid song that arguably may contain the best vocal melody while “3,080” contains underutilized vocal harmonies. The album closes with “No Guarantees,” which is a poppy, rock sound ends that album with a bang.
The Wonderlife is a decent album with a number of songs that were good. The guys are accomplished songwriters but still have room for improvement. Luckily, for these two, time is on their side since they aren't even old enough to buy a drink at the local bar yet.
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