REVIEW: Stepdad – Wildlife Pop

Artist: Stepdad
Album: Wildlife Pop
Genre: Rock/Pop/Awesome
Label: Black Bell

Let’s pretend that we are friends for a second.  We were bunkmates in summer camp together in the third grade, and then stayed penpals until college.  We shared a rundown apartment blocks from campus.  We used to throw parties on Fridays, Saturdays, and alternate Wednesdays.  On the second Thursday in March, I introduced you to the person who would eventually become your significant other.  We have history.  You can trust me.

So, because you can rely on me, do yourself a favor this summer; bail on the new Passion Pit cd.  No, seriously.  If “Take A Walk” is any indication of the quality of their new direction, the entire album is bound to be a flop. (Yeah, I fucking said it, hipster nation.  Deal with it.)  However, don’t get your hot pants and glowsticks in a bunch.  I have the elixir to cure your dance party blues.

With piano riffs flowing in every direction and an orchestra of percussion pounding through the headphones, Grand Rapid, Michigan’s Stepdad is picking up where other bands are flickering out.  Beginning to end, Wildlife Pop shines in a familiar and comfortable manner.  Conjuring up ghosts of everything from Chairlift to Passion Pit to Muse, their Black Bell Records release not only stands up against the spotlight, it manages to make a name for itself.

I’d like to draw special attention to the manner in which this band uses both technology and computerized noise.  Splashing just enough electro-pop into the mix to be catching without smothering the tracks in fuzz, the band is a textbook example of how to be flavorful without becoming overwhelming.  There is something extremely infectious about a band with the perfect combination of raw musical talent and IT Crowd book smarts.

Yet even more impressive is the spray of talent throughout the album.  There is no denying the fact that there is not an unlistenable track on Wildlife Pop.  Seriously, stop for a second and think about that statement.  Get your ass up and walk to your cd collection.  Go through them one by one.  Sort them out into two piles; albums with filler tracks and albums with nothing but gems.  At the end of your search, which pile wins?  In an industry where singles have become more relevant than LPs, Stepdad is the minority.  Without much of a stretch this band has offered up not one, but twelve possible singles.  Take that MGMT.

Therefore, as a person lucky enough to spend my life armpit deep in free music, I’m reaching out to you, the consumer, who is stuck dropping 20 dollars on a dying industry.  Support the bands that matter.  Stop listening to what the collective voice has determined you should own and dig for the genius buried somewhere beneath the internet hype.  Chances are fairly strong that 80 percent of those reading this review had never heard of Stepdad prior to this post.  Hell, I work in the music industry and I hadn’t.  However I’ll be the first to admit that name recognition is in no way parallel to talent.  The shit floats to the top.  The real bands are the ones in the trenches working their asses off to push an art they love.  After seven years of writing and thousands of reviews, Stepdad might be one of the best accidents I’ve ever stumbled upon.  It is bands like this one that remind me why I started writing in the first place; to push the little guy to the front of the line.

So I’m asking you, my readers, to help give them a shove as well.  They will not let you down.

Score: 9/10
Review written by: Joshua Hammond

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5 Responses to “REVIEW: Stepdad – Wildlife Pop”

  1. KO says:

    Happy to say I’m one of the 20%. First introduction to Stepdad was as an improvised soundtrack to the male figure skating routines during the Vancouver Olympics. Try that combo sometime- surprisingly mindblowing.

    I’m DIGGING Take a Walk though…. I love Stepdad a little more…. but not much more. Just sayin’

  2. Thefirehairman says:

    Love the album – shitty review. No mention of any songs, you never talk about the music itself. .The MGMT comment wasn’t necessary, these guys made amazing albums without fillers. 

  3.  I wish I had found this band earlier. I’m thrilled that I have now though. I’m certainly going to keep my eyes open and in tune with where they head, hopefully pushing them along as they rise. I’d love to see them succeed.

    I’m hoping I’m wrong regarding Passion Pit. I really do love them. I just haven’t been hit with the same love for Take a Walk as I was Make Light and Little Secrets. I’m willing to eat crow if the album comes out and blows me away.

  4. Let’s start with the mention of songs. You are right. I absolutely didn’t. I intentionally took this route as I wanted to stress the quality of the album as a whole instead comparing each track. Wildlife Pop is strong enough to be played beginning to end, so I didn’t feel the need to pick it apart track by track.

    As for the lack of discussion regarding music, reread paragraphs 3, 4 and 5. The descriptions within those sections are about the music.

    As for MGMT, the B-side of Oracular Spectacular was a real letdown compared to the top side and Congratulations was junk. Of course this is nothing more than my opinion, but again, the above comment is nothing more than yours. One of us reviews music for a living. One of us comments anonymously. It is hard to tell who’s opinion means more. 6 of one, half dozen of another or some other catchy cliche.
    Lastly, I have to confess that this is the first time I have ever given a band an extremely positive review (9 out of 10 stars) and gotten backlash. Just seems like maybe you are looking for a fight. That’s not what I’m here for. I was here to push Stepdad into the spotlight.

    You’re here to piss and moan.  

  5. Machiventa says:

    Too bad you didn’t like Congratulations. I might be beating a dead horse here but maybe give it another try. It grew on me over time and I find I like it MUCH more than Oracular Spectacular. I find I can throw it on pretty much any time whereas OS got really old to me (really fast).

    Either way love the album, shitty first comment, great review!