Sporting a name that means “wonderful” sets lofty expectations for Vundabar – expectations they meet and exceed.

On Gawk, chunky, bass-laden riffs support buoyant vocals that venture to a side of Vundabar that’s darker than their debut, Antics. The Boston trio have established themselves as a unique baroque-pop-meets-freak-folk hybrid that comes as a refreshing change of pace from the predominantly post-punk wave that seems to be sweeping Beantown.

Landing them a feature in both Spin and Vice, Vundabar’s single “Oulala” has brought them recent success. The Pixies trademarked the loud-soft-loud technique, fusing an angry punk sound with radio-friendly hooks; “Oulala” calls upon the simplicity of this, without veering away from echoing baroque pop melodies. Rollicking drums keep the mood upbeat while the plunging vocals explore frontman Brandon Hagen’s range. Their chemistry onstage together is unbelievable – catch one of their live shows and watch as the music seems to burst uncontrollably from the boys as they play.

We heard “Ash In The Sun” when it was released as a single nearly a year ago, tried and true to the already cultivated Vundabar sound. Its placement on Gawk is significant, however, in that it acts as a predecessor to “Bust.” Where “Ash In The Sun” is classic Vundabar, “Bust” is a gritty departure from the familiar, featuring the trio taking a foray into grunge. With bubbling, thick guitar that refuses to distinguish between individual notes, it’s a darker side of Vundabar that leaves the listener slightly uncomfortable.

But what’s most impressive about Vundabar is their seemingly mature sound and their admittedly youthful age. Would-be juniors and seniors in college this upcoming semester, these boys show that age doesn’t necessarily equal experience. What makes Gawk such a tight album is the evident chemistry between the members of the band. Formed while they were still in high school – and having only added bassist Zach Abramo to the original lineup – Vundabar is more than just a band. They’re three friends playing for playing’s sake.

 

Album Review: Vundabar - Gawk
Pros
  • Commitment to sound
  • Great band chemistry
  • Refreshingly upbeat
Cons
  • Dips into darker side
  • Uneven transitions
  • Can get a bit monotonous
9Truly wunderbar

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