Ontario outfit Tripper and the Wild Things have created something familiar with their debut self-titled album Tripper and the Wild Things. It oozes of alternative rock favorites like Nirvana and the Pixies, and if you turn it up loud enough, you may feel like you’ve been transported to 1991. But when the album comes to a close, it’s still 2019, and Nevermind and Surfer Rosa are still available to listen to on Spotify. While the album is a front-to-back fun listen, Tripper and the Wild Things fails to rise above its influences.
The song “Wrecking Man” exhibits all the band’s strengths. The guitar, reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins, is catchy and drives the song forward. We get the first taste of lead man Joshua James’ scratchy, Cobain-like vocals on this track as well.
It’s a song about the self-reflection that comes after a relationship ends. As the song intensifies, so does James’ delivery as he sings, “Want to feel your body against mine / And I said that I’m sorry for the wasted time / I’m a wrecking man.” It’s a punchy and dynamic track that proves the band can rock.
The opener “Caramel” is arguably the album’s highlight, despite differing slightly from the rest of the songs. This Britpop tinged tune is closer to Oasis than Nirvana and features the best overall songwriting. The vocal melody is catchy all the way through and features a stuck-in-your-head chorus, culminating with the dangling line, “I’m caramel.”
Despite these high marks, I couldn’t help but hear the songs and bands that influenced this Tripper and the Wild Things album, like Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” or “Growing Pains.” At times, it took me out of the experience. Hopefully, Tripper and the Wild Things use this grunge and alternative rock sound and takes it somewhere new. This album proves that they are talented enough to do it.
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