The Wow Signal - Infinity's Lobby
The Wow Signal are quite clearly not a band to hide their influences from the world as every track on Infinity’s Lobby positively bleeds 70s rock. In the right hands the influences can come across as fresh as if we were in the era but in the wrong hands, it could just come across like a band that have no ideas and are hoping that their new fans are too young to remember the 70s. Thankfully for both my listening pleasure and for The Wow Signal, they get it just about right with their debut album.
Opener Purr Right is almost a bit misleading by provoking memories of glam rock and the likes of David Bowie with its psychedelic riffs and lyrics. It eventually develops some harder edges which make the track a thoroughly enjoyable opener if not a true indication of what’s to follow.
This comes with the crunching title track Infinity’s Lobby which was released last November to some muted fanfare and clearly deserved more attention. It mixes screeching guitar riffs with a pounding drum beat and is as retro as a space hopper without being too overly familiar. The track just begs for the volume to be turned up to the maximum regardless of who it affects around you.
A band can’t be considered truly 70s without a power ballad or two and the album’s first, and best, power ballad comes with Debunked. It possesses all the characteristics – longer than average song length, slow acoustic build up, crunching riffs before a lull where some proper lighter waving can take place and then a heavy riff-tastic final bridge. It’s a track that was unashamedly meant to be played live in stadiums although it’s too early to tell if The Wow Signal will get to do so.
The band doesn’t just rely on rock and electro 70s influences though, tracks such as Lovers Scam showcase the band’s punk abilities. Again it’s like they went through a checklist of things like song length, short obviously, and particular riffs, stripped down and fast, but it comes across fresh and not just a band bereft of ideas just yet. However that could be more to do with the track being different to any other on the album by this point rather than it being a modern take on punk and The Wow Signal are certainly no Bronx in that department.
It’s really over the last few tracks of the album where criticisms seem to become more frequent. Lead singer Andrew Goldman’s vocals get lost among the riffs and are rendered inaudible a few times especially on All You Will Discover where he’s just a bit too quiet with everything going on around him. The constant old school riffs do tend to start to bore rather than induce head banging, other than some brilliant staccato riffs on They Got It Wrong.
However it’s quite possible that if the track list was inverted, any of these comments could have been said about some of those tracks instead of the praise. It’s a case of letting too much influence cloud the tracks as you start to wish that the band would try something different, rather than just showcase how good they are at making retro rock sound modern. Without seeming to try anything that is inherently ‘their sound’, The Wow Signal come across as a tribute act to 70s rock at times on this album rather than their own band.
So overall, certainly no immediate ‘Wow’ factor to this album but there are promising signs that The Wow Signal can become a great alternative rock band. They just need to start letting their influences just influence their sound and not dominate it.