A Review of Wives’ So Removed

by Tracy Haught

A forty-something-year-old woman is probably not the target audience for Brooklyn-based band Wives’ debut album, So Removed, but I’m here to tell you that what they’ve got going on is ageless. I would’ve listened to this album at any point in my life and am currently digging it as much as someone in their twenties might. The music feels just right—not too loud, not too angsty—the songs calling us to come for a ride, not to trouble ourselves with contemplation, the lyricist having done the contemplating for us. We are carried along into an intimate, afterhours hum, where the seriousness of the world calls for the undoing of seriousness, where we can let down our hair, letting the sound of the album simultaneously stroke and hold us in its grip, first song to last, leaving its sensually raw, unapologetic mark on us. 

It’s hard to nail down influences in So Removed. The album feels old-timey in places, yet timeless. Wives have been branded Alternative, but one of the things this band does well is create a hybridity of noise—a kind of genre-less-ness—an eclectic bargaining of sound that falls into the blurred spectrum of genre, where rules and labels need not apply. Hints of pleasure pop, not to be confused with pigtail pop; heavy, croony blues; jingly seventies and eighties rhythm; the sorrow-ridden nineties; and the now, right now, all living within the album, sometimes all within one song. 

One of my favorite songs on the album is “Hit Me Up,” which is really striking, showcasing the singer’s range, playing with these influential sounds of time, dipping into nineties grunge in one moment and in the next breath I’m taken back to the eighties, and then in the very next, I can’t pin it down at all. In “Whatevr,” echoes of the 1950’s & 60’s come through. The lyrics feel fresh, the music like a hook—a high— balancing the sway of the songs like these guys have been playing together forever rather than just two years. The repetition in “Even the Dead” pounds and pivots in an extremely satisfying way, giving one a sense of the craft that went into the lyrics, intentional without giving the feeling of intention, the result feeling easy and effortless yet fine-tuned. The music feels authoritative yet friendly. The sound drips with contrast, teasing, pulling us along with it. Lead singer and lyricist Cory Schwartz’s voice is a fine raspy thing, uncompromising, almost brooding. Danceable but deep, I want to simultaneously scrawl poetry on a napkin and flail around.

So Removed is asking but not asking us to be serious, to let ourselves sink or soar, to do whatever we want, essentially. The songs feel like an escape, like a vacation, like your favorite drug, or your favorite pair of jeans. This album feels like it’s meant to please you and lead you away from the mundanity of the everyday, while giving us the everyday. “Why is Life” sounds and feels familiar yet entirely new at the same time. The vocals, the acoustics, the drums, all humming in this fluidity that you can feel surging through you, rubbing into you, moving you. “Waving Past Nirvana” started this trip and “The future is a Drag” bring us home, both hauntingly smudged, existential serenades. There aren’t many albums that have come out in recent years where I can honestly say that I loved every song; you’ll want to replay these songs the instant they end. 

Buy the album here.

Tracy Haught earned a BA in English literature and creative writing from Cameron University. Her work has appeared in Awakened VoicesThe BridgeCybersoleilThe Oklahoma Review, Poetry For The Masses, Prime Mincer, Sugar Mule, and elsewhere. Tracy lives in Montpelier, Vermont, where she is an MFA candidate in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing and Publishing Program.