The many faces of Finn Wolfhard – Stranger Things wonderkid, Saint Laurent smooth criminal, foul-mouthed Losers Club comedian – have met their match. Fronting The Aubreys as darling in a grandad sweater, Wolfhard (18) joins collaborator and post-split Calpurnia bandmate, Malcom Craig (19) on their latest twelve-track project, 'Karaoke Alone'.
Produced by champions of the guitars-never-died movement, Cadien Lake James and Colin Croom of Twin Peaks, 'Karaoke Alone' is a record that has old-soul written all over it.
With influences so diverse they’re difficult to place – Wolfhard cites rock ‘n’ roll that came out of Chicago in the nineties and noughties, while I hear sweet, soft, country bumpkin – the record exists in a curious no man’s land between childishly goofy and wickedly vintage. “I feel like now I really draw from personal experience and try to write how I feel,” Wolfhard told NME last week of his movement toward a more mature sound.
'Karaoke Alone' begins with the romantic and cheerful: opener ‘Same as You’ is a well-produced vision of unbrushed, lo-fi indie that smoothly runs into an acoustic Bowie-esque space-synth on title-track ‘Karaoke Alone’. Although the track features an extended drum beat outro that feels slightly awkward, in the context of The Aubreys acid-laced lyrics (‘In the dead of a dream / I woke up in my car’) a spaced-out instrumental doesn’t feel too abstract or misplaced.
The scratchy vocals on ‘In the Ground’ and demo-style video outtakes on ‘Dog Behind’ give the project a warm, endearing quality. On ‘Resale,’ Wolfhard’s vocals are earthy and heartfelt, channeling Bon Iver’s For Emma, or the sketchy romanticism that The Walters do so well on Songs for Dads. Stand-out on the record is ‘Blue’, a track that sees unrefined garage-rock elements and vintage guitar licks combine successfully to make a sound that’s angsty and anthemic.
Knock em’ down as just kids out of high school, and you’re missing something interesting – unrooted to a particular time or place, The Aubreys are the modern answer to making music: no strings attached.
Words: Jessica Fynn
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