From the first triumphant moments of Stepdad’s debut album, Wildlife Pop, it’s clear that this album going to be blaring out of people’s car windows all summer long.
The Grand Rapids-based electro-pop group first appeared on the scene with their self-produced EP Ordinaire. The sheer catchiness of singles like “My Leather, My Fur, My Nails,” caught the attention of Chris Zane, so the group traveled to New York to record their first full length. Wildlife Pop came out on Black Bell Records on June 12. The album stays true to the sound of Ordinaire, further establishing and expanding on that distinctly Stepdad sound: layers of synth, bombastic choruses, and lots of falsetto.
The English language doesn’t contain words grand enough to describe the first track, “Must Land Running.” The sheer bliss of the initial keyboard arpeggiation is breathtaking. By the end, a veritable choir led by lead singer ultramark’s falsetto reverberates as if across an open field, supported by layers of synths and echoing beats.
A reworked version of “My Leather, My Fur, My Nails,” marks another highlight of the album. This song is an example of one of the few perfect songs that exist in the world today. Just try not to sing along to it. It’s a party-pop anthem, marked by the fact that Stepdad toured for the likes of Passion Pit and Fitz and the Tantrums off of the strength of the single.
All the songs follow suit with soaring synth, fantastic falsetto, and some birds chirping (“Treasure Hugs”). The brilliance of all of this is that Stepdad isn’t trying to be anything they’re not. That’s what makes this a great album. It’s not particularly cerebral or groundbreaking and mind-blowing. It’s catchy pop, plain and simple, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Not all of the songs on Wildlife Pop are as euphoric as “Must Land Running,” or “My Leather, My Fur, My Nails,” (in fact, “Pick and Choose” gets a bit too precious for me on the choruses) but it doesn’t really matter. It’s still an album worth listening to front to back, and dancing to all night long.
Welcome to summer.
Stepdad - Wildlife Pop tracklist:
- “Must Land Running”
- “Show Me Your Blood”
- “Mystery in the Faking”
- “Will I Ever Dance Again”
- “To Ribbons”
- “My Leather, My Fur, My Nails”
- “Pick & Choose”
- “Starfriends On Earth”
- “Treasure Hugs”
- “Warrior (Jungles, Pt. 2)”