IDLE WILDS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Big Hit Records EP (no label) 1993
Dumb, Gifted and Beautiful (Ardent) 1995
Pennsylvania's Idle Wilds play gorgeous pop music that draws a time line directly from the Beatles to Big Star and in doing so, the band draws attention to itself. The melodies on the Big Hit Records EP reveal singer/songwriter David Gray (no, not that David Gray) to be a pop imagist on a par with Tommy Keene or Marshall Crenshaw though his themes wallow more in dark self-pity than giddy optimism. "Freakin'" is a hooky Matthew Sweet-style tune; "All the Wrong Reasons" locates its melody and arrangement on the Left Banke; "You're Cool" evokes classic Illinois melody-makers like Pezband and Off Broadway. All the songs are near-perfect, and Big Hit Records is not to be missed by even casual fans of power pop.
The quartet's full-length debut, Dumb, Gifted and Beautiful, mixes a slew of fresh originals and new versions of some of the EP's best songs. Repeats include the chorus-pushing "Crying on the Inside" and the heartstring-pulling "Surrounded," as well as "Freakin'." Excessive use of guitar feedback sometimes shrouds the hooks, but Dumb, Gifted and Beautiful recorded at Ardent Studios and produced by John Hampton is generally as good as earthy pop music gets.[Jordan Oakes]
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