Sardonic Grit Meets Funk and Nihilism Uptown in This Wilderness’ Debut “Sorry About Tomorrow”

This Wilderness
Sorry About Tomorrow
Wax & Wane

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It’s in the way Robert O. Leaver’s voice approaches you as if he’s just come right up to you on a busy city sidewalk and begun regaling in a somehow direct but enigmatic fashion, casually but brutally honest, making you imagine Lou Reed channeling a pretension-free, East Coast-bred Jim Morrison. It’s the fraught minimalism of the synth-loaded backing tracks courtesy Cop Shoot Cop alumnus Jim Coleman (alongside fellow CSC conspirator Phil Puleo, fresh off a seven-year stint in Swans), sympathetic in a most seductively menacing way to the raw – and wryly – emotional, often dystopic and/or amusing narratives they fit themselves around. It’s the feel of a thing that never rests. All of this tells you, strictly without pride or fanfare as none is needed, that Sorry About Tomorrow is a New York album of the kind we’ve wanted and haven’t quite had for far too long. There’s that tension in its restraint, that fierce and fearless intelligence lurking in its audio DNA. It reminds us of every sui generis artist we’ve ever cared about from that fabled city’s history by reminding us of none of them, exactly. Indeed, the factor this album most closely shares with those just alluded to is the extent to which its path detours into the unexpected while never deviating from what would seem its core mission of being riveting throughout.

Aside from the explosively compressed “Brdthrwr” that hews closest to the noise terror throb of Coleman’s former lot (while also claiming the gong for the album’s most powerful rhythmic beast, in no small part due to the nimble drive of its bassline), the rest, though wholly accessible, resemble themselves and little else. With that in mind I beg your forbearance for whatever referents I resort to in the following text. Despite (and yes, because of) Sorry About Tomorrow‘s irascible aesthetic, ballpark comparisons are still required to give sufficient clue.

Opener “Full Time Woman” has a digital beatnik feel like Ken Nordine having gone through the gauntlet of the industrial rock revolution and come out surreally obsessed, fighting diminishment and prone to shapeshifting. The claustrophobic “My Medication” hovers in a nervous corner, the walls chewed down to a jagged lath and plaster, while “Lonely Woman” is a keening blues lament a la Mark Lanegan in a particularly bereft state of mind. Even deeper even darker even more airless is the not-so-well “Well,” the atmosphere of which evokes excavation and torn-up bloodied fingernails as in an elevator shaft made from scratch. Not, in other words, the world’s most uplifting track and yet it’s compelling as fuck with a snatched glimmer of humor besides to keep you grounded (“falling down a well, it’s a young man’s game“). On the – comparatively – lighter side, Sorry offers the nihilistically tongue-in-cheek “Drop Dead,” its beat in a percussive no-man’s land between a skeletal, strychnine funk and a kind of accidentally apocalyptic reggae and, to send you back happy into the trenches, the album closes with “D.O.G.,” a long-needed testament of defiant atheist soul. All slinky bright organ chords shining above a low end that’s half robo-funk half electro-paranoia, it is in essence Marvin Gaye turned inside out, his host resolved of all its sins, regrets, and anguish, the troubled spirit freed from demons and released at last.

Or anyway such are my reads, and it doesn’t matter if yours align with mine so long as these few meager words lure you Sorry About Tomorrow-ward. Small label, maybe a little hard to find (though we’re making that less a problem down below), it is still persuasively the best – or at least most captivating – debut of the year, doesn’t matter what else is released henceforth. [buy Sorry About Tomorrow here][to close the deal we offer this early, at least as powerful version of “Full Time Woman”]