Wood Lake

When Wood Lake’s Hell comes to a close, there’s a moment where you kind of say, “huh,” but then you start right back at the beginning at attempt to parse what transpired. The way things end is quite different than the path that brought you there. Or is it? We don’t want to go full on in medias res, so maybe it’s best if we just start at the beginning before getting to the big reveal.

As “Oceans” begins the album, one thing is clear – a massive, looming, apocalyptic sense of urgency hangs over Hell. What does it all mean, and what is the metaphor behind it all? Excellent questions that we think might eventually be cleared up. Throughout the album, you’re met with intense collisions that are somehow produced by three people – apparent in this track all the way until the pen-ultimate track “Hollow.” An eerie string section is placed as an ominous juxtaposition to the chaos that will continue to ensue.

Propping up the album is a backdrop of shoegaze that seeps into the marrow of the band. You hear this throughout – whether it’s the piano-centric world of “Still Life Collage,” or the post-wave time jump to 1995 on “Head in the Sand.” A singular moment, a flicker in the ether of one’s particular existence, is captured within “Still Life Collage,” a musical synapse that explodes, fusing itself to the participant’s limbic system. “Head in the Sand” wonders what’s the point of all of it? When you hear the reverb, and those memories spark again, you know the answer.

These moments of nuclear concentration therefore only make the subtle moments that more enlightening. As we alluded to in our initial write-up of “Easy Love,” finding a balance between a subdued nature and desire to project is precarious, especially on a debut album. But this is found on “Barrhaven,” where a quiet, almost ethereal beauty takes hold. Of course, this tranquility cannot exist without a bit of destruction, but with a moment’s notice, the impending doom is squelched. Maybe it takes place in two worlds – ours with the quietude, the outer with destruction about to reign in on us. Or maybe it’s simply about life.

In comes that impeding catastrophe. Gorgeous, with a slight hint of Smashing Pumpkins, the vocals are buried as if they’re carrying the weight of the world. A bizarre paradigm happens where there’s a feeling of infinity, but it’s also like watching everything crumble around you. Envisioning two hands holding as everything unfolds is easy on what becomes an emotional experience. Coupled with the aforementioned “Hollow,” you have the perfect combination of true conclusiveness, right?

No. The aftermath of all of this fallout? A surprisingly peppy post-rock surf-leaning track that is “Comfort You (Goodbye).” Declaring what’s done is done, Wood Lake see it as time to move on. While the song isn’t exactly pop, it does make you wonder what the fuck just happened (in a great way). Was everything a dream sequence? Was it all one giant metaphor that came to its natural end while the post-script moves well forward in time? Further deconstruction is necessary.

Just see for yourself. The album is out now via Wood Lake’s bandcamp page. It’ll be the best $5 you spend this week – guaranteed. Joey Smith