When Jack Tatum unveiled Gemini, the debut full-length from his one-man synth band Wild Nothing, the masterful way by which time tunneled through the aisles of the TRAX record shop from Pretty In Pink earned him heaping spoonfuls of acclaim upon its release in 2010.
With Nocturne, however, Tatum makes the fatal flaw of doubling down on the very sound that garnered him his initial kudos. And while the Grandaddy-meets-Glass Tiger overtones that made Gemini such a treat are indeed prevalent throughout the time frame of these new songs, especially on tracks like “Chinatown” and “Paradise.” Unfortunately, however, this record comes across more so as a retread of what the Brooklyn-based songwriter was achieving in previous strains of his oeuvre, giving the majority of this material a bit of a moldy feel to it.
Yet even at his most underwhelming, Tatum still writes better songs than most of the current crop of Pitchfork-approved acts nipping at the tit of Molly Ringwald. You can clearly recognize his growth as a composer and scribe, as the artist moves from the dorm room where he recorded Gemini while studying at Virginia Tech to the professional digs of the famed Rare Book Room studio in the 718. The room where he and Dirty Projectors/Atlas Sound producer Nick Vernhes did a heck of a job achieving the peak-era Fleetwood Mac-cum-prefab Yanni new wave act Chameleon vibe Tatum was looking to achieve on tracks like the AM-speckled title cut and the string-laden ‘Shadows’.
And it is that kind of pie-eyed affinity for pure pop which makes Nocturne well worth a spin, redundancy and all.