By Joey Gibbs
Wallow’s “Remote” EP (Deluxe) serves listeners a musical orgy of OK Go, The 1975 and the Naked Brothers Band. Lacking any sort of cohesion and suffering from bouts of uninspiredness or overly-produced sounds, Remote is a clear indication that Wallows is still wading their feet in waters of their potential.
The added five songs to the deluxe EP either makes this an awkwardly large play or a pretty flimsy album — either way, the songs really do not interact with one another. Too many pretty melodies were shoved under distorted edgy production, some melodies felt jagged and a lot of sonic strengths were not taken advantage of.
“Remote” is very similar to sweetener, and not in the sense of Ariana Grande — more in the sense that it adds a little kick to the coffee you drink and ultimately forget about before your eight consecutive hours of Zoom University. “Remote” showed a lot of potential, but it felt drowned in trying its desperate attempt to capture that overly-saturated and photo sharp aesthetic. While the rose coloration really aided some tracks, most are just forgettable and the ones you would not add to your “vibes” playlist.
Wallows was one of the lucky few who TikTok helped explode — their song “Are You Bored Yet?” featuring the illustrious Clairo, were some pretty impressive milestones in 2020. Topping #2 at Alt Radio as well as being a certified Platinum single, the song “Are You Bored Yet?,” shortened to AYBY, was scenic music to all quarantine kid Woodstock montages. That same pseudo-nostalgic sound featured on the hit single flooded over to this EP and had a tough battle — working in some cases and feeling completely surface level in others.
Let’s start with the weak — the unholy trinity of “Wish Me Luck,” “Nobody Gets Me Like You,” and “Virtual Aerobics.” These songs felt rushed and sounded amateur; it was as if I can easily find the loops and mixes on Garageband. I think the most disappointing was “Nobody Gets Me Like You.” A sugary little love song birthed right out of Sgt. Pepper’s, “Nobody Gets Me Like You” was ruined by the distorted production. The wild saw that dances behind the vocals was a complete distraction from the vocals, and the latter half of the song was messy. Continuing the idea of mess, “Wish Me Luck” was definitely the weakest song on this EP. Very bland vocals, amateur synths, forgettable melodic material — donning at 3 minutes and 45 seconds — this song disastrously failed to read the room consisting of all the short e-boy musical monologues on this EP.
“Virtual Aerobics” captured an unwarranted sound on this album. Wallows once again provided us with bored vocals that, this time, did not have enough confidence to finish a full musical phrase. The escape from distortion was a nice break, but the way the honky tonk instrumentation came together to accompany the groaning rap was bitingly quirky. “Virtual Aerobics” felt like a watered down version of Doja Cat’s “Cyber Sex” featured on the soundtrack of a bad Netflix teen romcom of the late 2010s.
Singer Remi Wolf blessed this EP, as the collaborative track “OK” was the strongest song on this EP. This EP cannot decide if it wants to work with its instrumentals or fight against them. Having two strong collabs, this could be a warning sign that Wallows needs to take a Zedd or David Guetta route. That being said, Wolf and Wallows worked very well together. Wolf ditched the weird and scoopy vocal timbre like she did on “Monte Carlo” and just breathed freshness into this bright and delectable track. Her backing vocals were absolutely lovely and I wish Wallows would jot down a few notes — I have a feeling they could use background oohs and ahhs, hell, maybe even some descants, to their advantage.
“Dig What You Dug” was a real close second to being the standout track. The vocals were like honey, and the guitar and bass acted as accents and did not overpower the star — I heard the teamwork; I heard the harmony.
The focus single of this EP was “Quarterback” — an alright choice, but definitely one of the more forgettable songs. It had a lot similarity to “Coastlines,” and I feel as if both tracks were just a little undercooked. These two were definitely steering towards the indie/bedroom-y direction and they either need to embrace that sound fully or stick with the good stuff — their strength is definitely indie rock. The music video for “Quarterback” was full of surface-level boyish charm. With an obnoxious fisheye and a VHS filter, the music video took a popular aesthetic, threw in some anachronisms, and was confident in the fact that teen alt girls would probably eat it up.
Given time and confidence, I am sure that Wallows will have a masterpiece under their belt. However, right now they are rather young and eager to stay relevant. Soon they will develop a tight-knit fan base of middle and high school outcasts, sell their merch at Hot Topic, and the snobby indie kid will have to find someone else to be interesting with. In short, “Remote” was a decent EP that needs work, but there are definitely parts in it that will bring a smile to your face.
1. “OK feat. Remi Wolf”
2. Dig What You Dug
3. On Time
Tie between “Another Story” and “Wish Me Luck”