There can be no doubt that the Long Beach duo of Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso, also known as This Wild Life, have moved their sound away from the pop-punk of their early self-released efforts, 2011’s Pop Shove It and 2012’s Heart Flip. Low Tides makes it patently obvious that the power-pop/acoustic-rock of 2014’s Clouded wasn’t an aberration; a phase that the pair was going through.
It is difficult to reconcile the image of Jordan and Del Grosso with the gentle, inoffensive, glitzy sounds that they produce together; Jordan’s vocals are boy-band sweet, and Del Grosso’s harmonies and backing are spot on every time. The 10 songs collected on Low Tides are perfectly polished and buffed, with remarkably clear and sharp production on display throughout, with electronic percussion and string sections being variously deployed to augment the combination of vocals, and acoustic and electric guitars.
Low Tides proves to be an album that is as dull as it is perfect; there are no evident faults – beyond lyrics that overly rely on repetition – but neither is there anything to really capture the listener’s attention. Let Go, a solid power-pop piece to be sure, comes close at garnering interest with Maya Tuttle (drummer and singer for The Colourist) lending her vocals to the track, but this potential frisson is fleeting. Change My Sheets features an interesting metaphor of changing bed sheets as a road to self-improvement, and Del Grosso’s electric guitar work is also pretty good, while Red Room has a decent groove but the music is probably grander than can be justified by the lyrics.
This Wild Life have shown that they have a keen ear for melody and harmony, and it is easy to imagine how Low Tides’ songs would readily work in a live setting where atmosphere and style are more important than substance, but as a record Low Tides only manages to be adequate.