Although Wild Pink is, on paper, just another indie-rock band from New York City, its sound distinguishes it from the thousands of others that are currently blossoming out of the longstanding creative hub. Like many Brooklynites, none of their members are originally from the city.
But unlike others, Wild Pink’s music hasn’t adapted to its loud, anxious and urgent surroundings. Its full-length eponymous debut from last year is patient, soft and grows gradually climactic. As represented by its mosaic-style cover art, there are fireworks on Wild Pink, but they’re popping at an unobtrusive distance from the band’s idyllic vantage point.
Between vocalist/guitarist John Ross’ hushed, yet throatily deep timbre; guitar/bass tones that suggest the specific type of chilly evening humidity that follows a warm, spring day; and pattering drums that mostly ripple by the pond’s edge, occasionally splashing and sending rings across the water, Wild Pink sounds like it draws more influence from actual bushes than Bushwick.
Contemporaries like Thunder Dreamer and Cloakroom (minus the shoegaziness) come to mind, as well as the woodsy serenity of Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else — even a little bit of the middle-American vista-rock of Kevin Morby and Kurt Vile. Most of those artists originate from rural areas, however. In contrast, Wild Pink seems sonically separated from its urban homebase.
But Ross denies that the band’s regional sound is intentional, instead citing some of rock’s longstanding heroes as his inspiration.
“I listen to a lot of music, but I think Wild Pink has a bit of classic rock going on,” he tells City Paper by phone. “Tom Petty, Springsteen, a lot of that kind of stuff. And then some other stuff like Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, of course.”
Echoes of those artists certainly resonate throughout Wild Pink, particularly Springsteen in the heartland-ish “Great Apes” and “Battle of Bedford Falls,” and Petty in the peppy “Nothing to Show” and the crunchy closer, “They Hate Our Freedom.” Wild Pink is signed to the indie label, Tiny Engines Records, and most of its label mates are apt to be twentysomethings with knowledge bases that generally don’t predate the ’90s. Thus, Ross’ ability to pull from other musical eras gives the band an edge, but perhaps less likeminded companions.
“We are kind of outsiders,” Ross says, in an amiably indifferent tone. “I don’t know if we’re part of a clique or anything. Certainly not in New York, but neither in indie music as a whole.”
“We don’t really have like a home venue or a crew or anything,” he adds.
Sometimes forming a collective with other artists is imperative for upward mobility in such a saturated market, but Wild Pink seems to be benefiting from its unintended isolation. And from Ross’ description, the group’s next record — due out early this summer — will deviate even farther from the cramped, industrial environment the members reside in.
“I think that everything’s a little more fleshed out. A little bit more room to breathe,” he says. “It’s definitely dreamier, I guess, more lush.”