Wild Life

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Five albums in and Hedley still bristle with the sound of the now. They're clearly a group who still aspire to top the charts, and Wild Life certainly bears the mark of many trends of 2013, a sonic sensibility that balances the odd references to Charlie Sheen and other stale pop culture icons. Hedley are so trashy such dissonant allusions don't strike a sour note; if one doesn't make sense, there's another right around the corner. That omnivorous, rapacious appetite is the group's saving grace, as they never have enough conviction to sound like a fraud whenever they adopt a new style. And do they ever try new sounds on Wild Life. There's a bit of Daft Punk in "Crazy for You" (as blatant a cop of "Get Lucky" as legally possible), a bit of chilly One Republic balladry ("Headphones"), and some Lumineers stomp in "Heaven in Our Headlights," plus a whole lot of sounds that lie somewhere in between. Hedley's blatant desire to have a hit by any means necessary is tawdry but endearing because there is so much gloss here even the songs that aren't quite as potent sound alluring due to the big-budget slickness. Hedley aren't necessarily a natural band -- there's always a sense that they're trying too hard -- but the eagerness is ingratiating, particularly on an album like Wild Life where they rummage through a pop closet and try on anything in the hopes it'll make them look good.

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