We are living in a dream-pop renaissance. In the last few years, bands like Beach House, the xx, the Antlers, Wye Oak and Pains of Being Pure at Heart have put out classic albums that draw from the big fuzz and dissonant drone of '80s shoegaze and the tensile pop sensibilities of Sarah Records-era twee. Wild Nothing contributed 2010's excellent Gemini to the current boom, and Nocturne, the band's latest, is a worthy successor.
It's a lithe and sunny record, recalling The Bats' Silverbeet/Couchmaster period in how lacking it is in preciousness. To be so light and frothy without sickening sweetness is no easy feat (sorry, Belle and Sebastian). Opener "Shadow" immediately establishes the record's dominant mood: personable string passages over a moody, coiled-tight rhythm section, gauzy vocals and jangly guitars that waver from melancholy to enthusiasm and back again.
On the title track, Jack Tatum sings to an elusive paramour: "Do I amuse you / When the night is slow?" Tatum's lyrics often speak of frustrated desire or ecstatic surrender. "You can have me," he continues on "Nocturne," but the song never loses its buoyancy. "She has got something I've never known," he sings on "Only Heather," one of the album's standouts. "Only Heather / can make me feel this way," he says, breezily.
Nocturne is unmistakably a feel-good album with a feel-bad heart, from the jagged guitar line on "Disappear Always" to the sing-song chorus on "Counting Days."