Kip Moore makes his long-awaited return, innovating just enough to step out of the conformity of standard "bro" country.
For better or for worse, ever since his 2012 debut, Georgian singer-songwriter Kip Moore has most often been referred to as an innovator of the “bro” subgenre that has been taking country airwaves by storm for some time now. For better or for worse, 2015’s Wild Ones mostly feels like a continuation of Moore’s work from that perception, with anthems and ballads alike expanding upon themes centered around partying, girls, pistols, sex, beer, and trucks. Where Moore breaks from his the traditional mold that he had enveloped himself around during the elongated Up All Night era (Moore had trashed an entire album’s worth of material and redone it to get where he is now with his sophomore effort) all lies within the composition. Largely moving away from the slow-burning, sometimes brooding arrangements of his debut, Moore grips a significantly more upbeat instrumentation by the horns in this latest release.
Moore purposefully set out to create a soundscape that he had by and large left previously uninhabited in his past work, and it does wonders in terms of creating a fresher sounding experience within a subset that remains so overwrought with occupants within the modern country scene. All of the conventional instruments are there, tinged with light inclinations towards U2-ish synth that remain a standard in today’s bro country market with figureheads such as Blake Shelton really driving it home (see: “Boys ‘Round Here”). In terms of arrangement, however, is where Moore brings most of the more interesting sonic aspects to Wild Ones.
On the titular “Wild Ones,” some of that aforementioned synth is put to good use as a bassline to a more sinewy drum-based percussion, with light brushes of banjo and hand claps keeping it from falling totally into generics as Moore declares: “We don’t need no sleep tonight / Everybody’s bumping to the beat just right / We’ll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes / Tonight we’ll just worry about having fun!” Elsewhere, on “Lipstick,” he carries a strong Springsteen-esque riff while invoking some pseudo-prototypical Mumfordian “Heys!” into the mix for good, party-hard measure as he grittily croons over, well, girls and trucks.
Moore shows off his inner roots rocker on “Come and Get It,” though in doing so, applies himself to the fact that, lyrically, his music isn’t all too varied. Although it’s a catchy number that would likely light up the country charts, he’s once again affixing himself upon his lady of fancy’s lipstick whilst roaring out his best come-hither chorus. It ends with one heck of a guitar solo to exemplify itself from its fellow album tracks, though once one hits the aforementioned “Lipstick” about midway through Wild Ones, it becomes a little obvious that the so-called best songwriting names in Nashville music today all have a similarly singularly-tracked mind.
The album is infinitely catchy, and a sonic declaration against conformity as far as being a direct sequel to Up All Night is concerned; its singles will likely all be major country radio hits, and deservedly so in the current market. The little touches made by Moore and producer Brett James are just enough to exemplify itself from other bro country aficionados on the market today, infinitely more interesting and listenable than any recent Florida Georgia Line or Luke Bryan effort might. They even go drastically in a certain direction (see: the production on “Magic”, and the more understated love story of “Heart’s Desire”) when need-be to break from their own self-made monotony just enough to still be called cohesive. In its innermost DNA, Wild Ones does little to actually break from the bro label that critics had stuck him with during his debut with Up All Night, but what he does do to exemplify himself as a standout amongst the throngs of others inhabiting the scene is just enough to make him a real star.
Whether the album goes beyond merely being another good effort under his belt, though, is all dependent upon a country listener's personal tastes. If you're looking for something to break totally out of the rock-ready bro country mold, Wild Ones most certainly isn't your bag. If you're looking for something catchy, and somewhat more relatable than other offerings within the same expanse, than you've found just what you've needed.