Appearing without warning on June 10, 2016, Wanderlust is the sequel to Pain Killer, one of Little Big Town's biggest hits, but the album appears almost like an afterthought. Part of this is due to the lack of promotion -- apart from an interview with Billboard, there was no press -- but the eight-track record barely clocks in at 26 minutes, a length benefiting an EP, not a full album. Maybe that's what Wanderlust is: a palette-cleansing mini-LP, something not designed as a sequel to a blockbuster, but making things stranger still is how it's a collaboration with superstar R&B producer Pharrell Williams, who also brought in his longtime collaborator Chad Hugo to co-produce the eight tracks and recruited Justin Timberlake to co-write "C'mon," which also features his vocals. No matter how high "Girl Crush" placed in the charts in 2015 -- and it went to 18 on Billboard's Hot 100 on the way to picking up two Grammy Awards -- it in no way paved the way for a fusion of LBT's sensibilities and Pharrell's production, a combination that theoretically seems like a crossover but doesn't play that way in execution. Take "The Boat," a piece of minor-key soft rock that evokes memories of yacht rockers America, but Pharrell cuts up the rhythms and vocals so they percolate, a sound that's bracing but is neither pop nor country. Occasionally, one side of the equation is pushed harder than the other: tracks that lean toward Williams' wheelhouse, "Miracle" is glitzy as a glitter ball and "One Dance" ratchets up the rhythmic tension; "One of Those Days" tips its hat to LBT's "Day Drinking," "Work" recycles the cod reggae bounce of "Pain Killer," and "Skinny Dippin'" is a sequel to "Pontoon." Every one of these songs is lively and a little clever, relying on both Little Big Town's strengths and those of Pharrell, so it's a genuine hybrid, which is an achievement even if it doesn't necessarily guarantee an audience for the album; after all, the Venn diagram of the audiences for the two artists doesn't amount to much more than a sliver. But that's the appealing and bewildering thing about Wanderlust: it belongs to no country; it exists on its own island.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine