4/4/17 – Stepdad “Wildlife Pop” (2012)

Stepdad is an Electronic Indie Pop band that I fell in love with since their EP Ordinaire (2010). They play some of the catchiest, danceable, and uplifting music that I’ve heard, and they are still relatively unknown. If you’ve read many of my other reviews, you know that this isn’t what I usually listen to, which is all the more surprising given how much I love this band. Wildlife Pop is their debut album, and they had a lot to live up to after Ordinaire, but they completely delivered.

It starts with Must Land Running, a song I think a great introduction to the band and the album – a positive song about having awareness. Jungles follows it up with some very “In The Air Tonight” drums, complimented by Gospel-like synths and vocals- just a great anthem to jam to. Where I think Stepdad stands apart from the crowd is on the next song Show Me Your Blood. Mark “Ultramark” Tafel’s singing is just so on point, and the pounding drum machine and buzzy bass make this one of their catchiest songs to date. Lyrically, the song a bitter breakup song, but you couldn’t tell it from the sound of it. If I could keep up with Ultramark’s falsetto, I would sing along every time… since I can’t, I’ll stick to just singing along in the car.

Will I Ever Dance Again is another favorite of mine. The production is just so crisp and clean, and it really matters for this genre. I think a lot of bands can fall into that pit of mediocre Electronic Pop that at best apes off Animal Collective – but Stepdad avoids that pit by a country mile. Having the word “dance” in your title is a Babe Ruth shot call out – but Stepdad delivers, I always end up moving to this song. To Ribbons is probably my least favorite song on the album, but by no means is it bad. I think the chorus just isn’t there, the guitar clashes with Ultramark’s voice too much… but not enough to make me skip it on repeat listens.

My Leather, My Fur, My Nails is likely their most popular song due to the music video going viral. It’s a pretty hilarious video, and still one of their catchiest and best songs, and so I think it was a good choice to put it in their debut LP. It sounds like it’s been remastered slightly to fit the mix of the rest of the album, which is another smart touch. Starfriends on Earth is another favorite from this album. A dominant snare drum + clap drive this song, and I always drum along with it wherever I am. It’s just a purely positive song that never feels too cheesy, at least to me. Pop, indie, and Synthpop fans will love this album, I’m sure of it. Even if those aren’t the genres you usually listen to, give this a shot – it’s not what I usually listen to either but Stepdad is worth going out of your comfort zone for. When I want to get out of a foul mood, this album always lifts me up and helps me appreciate my friends and family, it lets me see the positive side to my life. I’ll end with some lyrics from Treasure Hugs:

“I was talking to a man one day and he couldn’t tell a lie
Time has flown, we will die
We’re alone, it’s alright
And in time we’ll be forgotten every single mortal soul
But you’ll be alive one morning in your bedroom
The sun will crack your windows, shake your walls
And you will wake up; realize the walk was worth a thousand falls”