‘Wordless Wonder’ sees Minnesota’s Real Numbers piece together a bright, breezy indie pop album.
Any music aficionado will immediately start playing ‘spot the influences’ as soon as the guitar riff of ‘Frank Infatuation’ commences. It has the crisp, vintage goodness of any twee or jangle pop band of the past, and a pretty nice helping of energy to boot. The luminous twang of the guitar plays its greatest role on the track ‘Only Two Can Play’, which sparkles throughout the track in the recurring main riff and chorus sections. The pretty nature of the instrumentals is quite likeable, the only problem one could come up with is that the complete intention may have been to pander to those that gush for that vibrant, twangy style.
As for specific influences, it seems as though there might be a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s homages where other criteria is concerned. The main vocal melody of the title track is fairly reminiscent of ‘That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam, and throughout the record, the listener could definitely a sense an apparent Morrissey influence in the vocal delivery.
Speaking of the vocals, while it is apparent that it is a stylistic approach, they do sound quite flat fairly often. When they press into the song on both the opener and on ‘New Boy’, they sound as if they’re setting out to irk – which is a shame, because the latter has a pretty cool post-punk quality to it. ‘Public Domain’ also sounds like it could be a great, memorable post-punk song, with its surf rock guitar riff, but once again, flat, mopey singing makes it pretty hard to enjoy.
Luckily, ‘Wordless Wonder’ isn’t long enough for any little niggles to completely disillusion anyone. The best track might be ‘Sister’s Serving Tray’, which encapsulates everything that is enjoyable about the record – it’s breezy, poppy, it has a memorable riff, and the dusty instrumentation sounds great.
If you’re not completely put off by the album’s recurring shortcomings, you may end up having a great time with ‘Wordless Wonder’, it’s no masterpiece but it is positive.