Wildhart’s debut EP is exquisite pop music for acquired tastes.
If you’ve not heard of Swedish trio Wildhart, don’t worry – it’s only a matter of time. Not just because they’re extremely talented, but because their music possesses a haunting quality that may just soundtrack your nightmares for the next few weeks.
Do not mistake that for meaning they are bad. In fact, Wildhart’s debut EP (minimalistically titled EP 1) is one of the strongest debut releases I’ve heard from an act in a long time. This is primarily due to their disregard for gender boundaries and their willingness to embrace the light and dark within themselves, creating music that shifts beyond the realistic realms of expectations. Opener Intro does little to set an introductory tone – vocal samples of spoken-worded snippets set a backdrop of radio distortion that the rest of the EP walks far away from. This is an EP of etherealism and otherworldliness – it’s not as simple as a faux-artistic radio interference illusion.
When it gets going, it really gets going. For every CHVRCHES-esque vocal delivery, there’s a strangeness that projects a bizarre sense of urgency onto the rumble of drums and the cyclone of instruments that often ensues. Stuck In A Second and Fantasy both set the groundwork for a great radio-ready pop record, both hook-laden and with a certain earworm charm. But this isn’t that great pop record. This isn’t for lack of ability, but rather lack of willingness – Wildhart don’t want this to be a straightforward pop debut that gets washed away within a week of listening.
If evidence were needed, it’s all within the main melody of Lost, easily one of the most effortlessly creepy pieces of music composed this year. The introduction of the track feels like something right out of a creepypasta, in particular anything involving a “.exe” concept. Then, suddenly, it uplifts into a traditionally celebratory pop track with a world music vibe. It’s an unusual transition but, given that it’s leading you away from the creepy opening, it’s one that you don’t think too much about as it glides into the busy finale We Made Up A Dream.
It’s a rare example of an EP where each track feels like a valuable part of a journey into the weird and wonderful world beyond the borders of expectation. There is no filler here, but nor is there anything that would be considered a straightforward killer track. This is pop music for acquired tastes, those who want the goodness of the genre but with the excitement of unexpected experimentalism. This is a debut consisting of a beautiful blend of artistry, populism and magic – nothing short of flawless.