Album Review – Wet Hair: In Vogue Spirit

Wet Hair
In Vogue Spirit

On Wet Hair’s third full-length LP (11th release overall), In Vogue Spirit, the band has embraced many of the same sun-baked sounds of their peers. Where contemporaries like Peaking Lights came at Reggae and dub through the backdoor of drone and noise, Wet Hair has found the middle ground between Krautrock’s spaced-out synths and the sunny rhythms of Jamaica. Much of the ease the band finds with this marriage is due to the addition of Matt Fenner (of Iowa City punk group Solid Attitude) on bass.

Album opener “Echo Lady” would have already been one of the most upbeat Wet Hair tunes yet, but with Fenner’s bass chugging along to Ryan Garbes’ cymbal splashes, “Echo Lady” actually has the kind of steam that should have you rolling down your window this summer. Nearly every track is leavened by Wet Hair’s new member.

Fenner’s bass is not the only game changer here. In Vogue Spirit has also replaced many of the dark, syrupy synth lines with brighter keyboard parts full of movement. Both “Tarantula” and “Fade Til Morning” not only benefit from the bubbly boost of Fenner’s bass but also feature almost playful, farfsa-aping key lines that’ll actually get you whistling. And, of course, it’s almost impossible to not at least nod at Shawn Reed slowly embracing coherent vocals and melodies.

This is by no means a pop record. Listen to the groovy, goopy wind-down at the end of “Fade Til Morning,” or the glowing embers of a song that warm into the flame-up of “Liquid Jesus”–you’ll find that Wet Hair is still feeling experimental. Garbes and Reed still concoct dense arrangements and, now, Fenner nimbly accentuates them. These are some experimental jams to get sweat dripping off your handlebar mustache.