Wild Moccasins

88 92

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Expanding on the dreamy guitar pop leanings of their 2011 debut, Skin Collision Past, Houston's Wild Moccasins go further down the rabbit hole with their obscurely named but extremely colorful follow-up, 88 92. Bolstered by the richly detailed production efforts of veteran producer and Beatles scholar Kevin Ryan, 88 92 floats in a sort of new wave, Technicolor state of chiming guitars, percolating synths, and the emotive Blondie-esque vocals of singer Zahira Gutierrez. From the opening shimmer of leadoff track "Open Sesames" to the Beatlesque, Indian-flavored jangle of album-closer "When I Said I Saw It Coming," the Moccasins offer up a wholly intoxicating mix. Gutierrez and co-singer Cody Swann swap lead vocal duties, often doing so within a song, further adding to the diversity of the band's already appealing sound. Album standout "Emergency Broadcast" features a strong co-ed performance from both singers over a wonderfully intricate, full-band riff that echoes the driving rhythm track of David Bowie's Eno-era classic "Look Back in Anger." Swann's title cut, "Eighty-Eight Ninety-Two," is a similarly angular-riffed take on visiting the psychiatric ward, revealing that the number 88 92 is the floor's access passcode. Gutierrez's songs tend to skew more toward a sort of exotic disco-dream pop, like on the thrilling and melodic single "Eye Makeup," which suggests more of a Talking Heads and B-52s influence. With all of the '80s worship that's so prevalent in bands of the millennial era, it can be hard to distinguish the forward thinkers from the revivalists, but Wild Moccasins present an interesting take that is both challenging and pleasingly retro. Having two unique voices and songwriters at the helm broadens their scope, and they've managed to greatly improve upon their sound with a stellar sophomore album.

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