Wild Pink follow up the tremendous ‘Yolk in the Fur’ with ‘A Billion Little Lights – their first album on new label Royal Mountain Records (Mac DeMarco, Orville Peck, US Girls). Produced by Dave Greenbaum (U2, Beck, Jenny Lewis), the record features guest vocals from Ratboys’ Julia Steiner as frontman John Ross ruminates on accepting the love and peace he deprived himself of in his 20s while also struggling to find a sense of direction…
With its stadium-style marching drums and melodic yet melancholic guitar hooks, the opener ‘The Wind Was Like a Train’ already sounds like an indie anthem in waiting as John passionately pleads ‘Make a wish now, I’ve got you back’. This segues perfectly into ‘Bigger Than Christmas’, a suitably warming and festive piece with a sound reminiscent of Wild Nothing: ‘It seems so clear, nature tales its course, year after year, always growing near’. The recent single ‘The Shining But Tropical’ offers references to the San Francisco Bay and has subtle ‘Digital Ash’-era Bright Eyes beats swirling around in the background as John and Julia joining forces in the powerfully romantic chorus: ‘You want peace, you want love. you deserve that much’.
‘Amalfi’ takes the album into a more experimental chamber pop-led direction as John looks back on the lessons he’s learned over previous decades (‘I’ve been so wrong my whole life’; ‘You’re a fucking baby but your pain is valid too’) before the jaunty bass line of the breezy ‘You Can Have It Back’ finds him coming to terms with the emotional turmoil that heartbreak and despair can bring: ‘Your love, you gave it to me, you can have it back. All I got was a heart attack. You can have it back.’ It’s a break-up song with singalong moments and some fondness when he reminds the subject ‘You can dream with Me’. With its lyrics about the stars an a plea for someone to come back home, ‘Family Friends’ reminded us of Cymbals Eat Guitars while there’s an almost mystical feel running through ‘Track Mud’ as John urges the subject to ‘wash away the stains’. The driving bass of ‘Pacific City’ is set against a tale of sadness (‘Quietly begging for some sympathy’) redemption and reassurance: ‘You believe that you were doomed and that everyone looks happier than you but you deserve the good things that came to you’.
The closing Frightened Rabbit-esque ‘Die Outside’ has talk of desolation and mountain tops as evocative atmospherics swirl around John’s tender voice. It’s a fitting finish to a record that twinkles at every turn.