The bio is simple: “Ex- and current members of Americans in France, Rongo Rongo, Toddlers and Spider Bags making some beautiful noise.” The music, though, is not so easy to pin down.
Are You a Baby?, the prelude to Carrboro trio Wild Wild Geese’s forthcoming debut LP, bristles with springy garage rock verve that seems to fit everywhere and nowhere at once. The Geese play with loose energy and nervy emotion, suggesting The Replacements and Reigning Sound. The screwball guitars feel more like Polvo, though, while the pop undercurrent has as much to do with British punk as American rebellion (or as much Buzzcocks as Stooges). Still, while Wild Wild Geese sound very much culled from all of those bands, it manages to avoid sounding too much like any of them.
When the trio inserts a thick padding of keyboards on the vintage punk stomp “Ladders,” for instance, it trampolines the song into new energy valances by clearing space. The guitars ride their riffs harder and faster. They screech off rail into bursts of gleeful noise.
But there’s one misstep, appropriately titled “Nathan’s Lament. The fourth and final cut, it diverges from the rest of the collection with one and a half minutes of tinny, plinking glockenspiel riding a creepy carnival melody. A half-baked attempt to be either playful or arty, it feels much longer than it actually is. Textural without being interesting, time-consuming without being enjoyable, it simply makes you miss the good thing the band had going.
But that seems to be part of the aesthetic here: Wild Wild Geese seem charged by the inability to sit still. They create songs that scatter and swerve, which may occasionally create a forgettable experiment, but here it also yields three striking pop songs where oddball divergences sit together wondrously.
Wild Wild Geese celebrate the digital release of Are You a Baby? at Nightlight Saturday, Sept. 26, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5, and Inspector 22 and Waumiss open.