No sugarcoating – let’s cut right to the chase. Wanderlust is not country quartet Little Big Town’s follow-up to their Grammy-nominated album Pain Killer. Undoubtedly many fans will compare Little Big Town’s experimental EP to its critically acclaimed LP which is only partially fair. Wanderlust is meant to be taken for what it is – “out of the box.” Essentially, the eight-track affair is the marriage between a country quartet known for its splendid harmonies and an eclectic urban/pop/hip-hop producer extraordinaire. Best to go in open-minded…
“One Dance” kicks things off with an infectious groove. There’s nothing little “country” about “One Dance,” but in regards to its pop sensibilities, the record cooks. This sounds more like Pharrell than Little Big Town, but shockingly works (again, with an open mind). A comparison point is Miley Cyrus’ “4×4” off her BANGERZ album. “C’mon” has more characteristics of country, even if the beat hails from urban music. The lazy sound of “C’mon” is appealing – think southern hospitality.
Quirky single “One of Those Days” follows, sounding very much “left of center.” Is “One of Those Days” horrific? By NO means. Is “One of Those Days” a hit? Again, by NO means. The record is intriguing, for better or worse. Can it be categorized? Um NO. “Work” blends old school country, rock, and soul cues. The prominence of bass, coupled with a sick rhythmic groove anchors the cut, ultimately serving as a catalyst for foot tapping, no matter how hard one tries to resist. It may not be traditional LBT, but hey, nothing wrong with feeling the music!
“Skinny Dippin’” keeps the momentum going strong, arguably delivering the crowning achievement of Wanderlust. The vocal harmonies are clearly part of the country-pop idiom, while the drum programming sounds like a slowed down version of The Neptunes’ famed “space funk.” Intriguing may be an overused adjective, but that’s the case with this chill, odd-ball eclectic record. To reiterate, “Skinny Dippin'” definitely WON’T be reprised on LBT’s upcoming LP.
“Willpower” comes closest to pure country music, even if the groove still has a dash of hip-hop infusion. Penultimate number “Miracle” sounds like 70s soul – updated slightly for 2016 that is. “The Boat” concludes Wanderlust…um,…uniquely to say the least.
So, what’s the verdict on Wanderlust? It’s bizarre, fun, and unique. Wanderlust isn’t a bold musical statement meant to be transcendent, but it does show two unlike forces working together to create something they’re even unsure how to categorize. Fans will likely pan it but if you enter into the EP open-minded, it actually might surprise you.
Favorites: “One Dance,” “C’mon,” “Work” and “Skinny Dippin’”
Little Big Town • Wanderlust • Capitol Nashville • Release Date: 6.10.16