Published Mar 18, 2016Beautiful, dark, wonderful and haunting things happen when Mason Jennings picks up an electric guitar. For the first time since 2009's Blood of Man, Jennings does just that, and holds it, for most of the runtime of Wild Dark Metal. The result is one of the most exciting, powerful records of his nearly two-decade career.
Opener "Death Grips" starts with Jennings unable to get noise-rap outfit Death Grips to play loud enough on his speakers and headphones for his needs; by the end of the song, Jennings is riding a wall of drums and guitars belting out "Free, free, free." It's a dramatic, romantic, poetic song that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The isolated, haunting first portion of standout "Everglades" builds slowly to an unbearable tension that's punctuated by Jennings' tortured wails, before giving way to a full-band attack. It's an achievement in musical storytelling. Elsewhere, Jennings sounds like he's having more fun than he has in years on fuzz-rocker "Two Dollar Man" and "Old Daze," a bouncy pop-rocker that finds him pondering his wounded heart. This is a Mason Jennings record, so there has to be a ridiculously pretty finger-picked lullaby song, and here it's "How I Feel About You," a more than worthy addition to the pantheon of Jennings' stirring love songs.
After a dozen albums and two decades of making music, that Jennings still has the drive to create a record like Wild Dark Metal is a beautiful, amazing thing — something like the record itself. (Independent)