PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Wildcat! Wildcat!: No Moon at All

The hooks are here, even when the lyrics aren't: a pleasant night drive to absolutely nowhere.

Wildcat! Wildcat!

No Moon at All

Label: Downtown
US Release Date: 2014-08-05
UK Release Date: 2014-08-05

Los Angeles has a habit of sounding like this: neon, night-time, buzzy, empty. The cars weave through the woozy right-angles of the traffic grid, steaming west on Pico or Olympic, everything tilting southwest as the ocean approaches, driving through warm night air toward or away from one of the city's many centers. It means nothing, this space between ocean and desert, a group of human beings lodged in the most interstitial of all places, grinding out something glossy from a series of moral failings and personal compromises. On debut full-length, No Moon at All, the trio from their sonic and geographic city of origin, Wildcat! Wildcat!, channel this type of complexity, crafting anthems made for night driving toward nothingness, the neon nihilism of the most American of all cities not named Chicago or Las Vegas.

Relying on production help from M83's Morgan Kibby has Wildcat! Wildcat! moving beyond the cute hooks of their first single, "Mr. Quiche". No Moon at All single "Hero" still features some of the same quaint, afterschool keyboards, but the band aims for something more grandiose in the lyrical content – "I'm taking on your hero" – and sound, a buzzing anthem made for the miles above the speed limit if not the dance floor. "Garden Greys", a song from last year's self-titled EP, reappears here in the same form, a saccharine series of hooks riding over bubbling keyboard line. It isn't quite Songs About Jane days for these LA kids, but the pop aspirations sound similar if the aesthetic emerges as a bit darker. Potential second single, "Circuit Breaker" sends the synthesized keyboards somewhere more downcast, building to a chorus of "Is there anybody out there?" They hope so.

The listener won't believe the emotional stakes are terribly high here – the band sounds too hedonist, too solipsistic for more than passing pessimism. Still, Wildcat! Wildcat! at least aspires to depth, even when it sounds superficial on silly lyrics like "I will wait for you, I fell in love again." If the landscape is heartbreak, and the title itself might suggest something of the sort, the band only holds the listener in the landscape of the heartbroken for an instant. On "Holloway (Hey Love)", the lyrics suggest trouble, but the sound would challenge even Polyphonic Spree for unfiltered ebullience in the refrain. If this is misery, happiness might well be a jet-engine spitting terrifying levels of treble.

On penultimate track, the aptly titled, "Sentimental", a dangerous subject heading for any serious artistic project, Wildcat! Wildcat! is back on the topic of failure and love. The emotional trigger is as flat as the orange florescence of the Los Angeles streetlight. We drive on to the next bar or restaurant in our little compartmental selves, unable to connect, some post-Less Than Zero group of hooks that haven't successfully hijacked the conventions of emptiness. It's insouciant, not deep. The band takes the listener to "Marfa" on the bouncy last song. Leaving LA has the band soaring "You don't have to be on your own," though the cynicism is already too deep for the effecting final sing-along takes hold. Wildcat! Wildcat! want to be about something, this is certain, but like their city of origin, they remain too lost in themselves to appeal broadly to the human condition. The hooks are here, even when the lyrics aren't: a pleasant night drive to absolutely nowhere.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Is Carl Nevill's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.