Anytime we can get new music from Acceptance it feels like a treat. Having waited for over ten years between full-length albums in Phantoms and Colliding by Design, the fact that the band is releasing new tunes semi-regularly now feels almost surreal. The Wild EP couldn’t have come at a better time, as 2020 has left us wondering what else could go wrong in the world around us. This particular record covers some new territory for the band as they have regained a lot of the momentum that was lost during their hiatus, and they pick up right where they left off from their last LP. Whereas Colliding By Design reintroduced their band to the world, Wild showcases what Acceptance are capable of creating when the pressure is on them to deliver.
”Cold Air” was the first single released from the record, and it gave us a small taste of the direction that Acceptance were going for on this EP. The song’s first few bars feel darker-toned and rely more heavily on synth elements that were hinted at during their last album. Lead vocalist Jason Vena sounds as confident as he’s ever been, especially when delivering powerful lyrics such as the pre-chorus of, “Hey, don’t it feel like the front lines? / And you say, what you mean when you look at me / Wait for a time when I’m listening / It’s closing in, it’s closing in.” The lyrical imagery of the band battling for their place in existence is a worthy statement of a band that has clawed their way back into the limelight.
Other songs such as the vulnerable “Midnight” help highlight the improvements in Acceptance’s songwriting. The first verse of “I gave my word to you / I said that I’d stay true / It’s midnight and I remember / The pain you put me through / You needed something new / Baby, that’s just not true / It’s midnight wherever you are / And I can’t feel a thing,” display the overall feeling of heartbreak that Vena was going through when he wrote these lyrics. These words build up to a perfectly constructed chorus, and the guitar playing of Kaylan Cloyd and Christian McAlhaney only further accentuates the emotions that are felt when listening to the powerful track.
”Son of the City” features one of my favorite lyrics from Vena to date as he passionately confesses on the chorus, “I’m not a normal hero / I’m just an ordinary person / I keep telling everyone this hurts like hell.” It’s rare for a front-man to be so purposefully honest with his audience as he tells his story through the music. This honesty pays great dividends along the way, as Acceptance have crafted one of their most authentic songs to date.
The EP closer, “Wasted Nights,” is built around another strong chorus that packs a similar punch to the style of The Gaslight Anthem. Vena allows for more insight into a relationship as he sings towards the end of the song, “I think we met around the first of May / I know I miss it like a slow, warm day / I wanna know what it felt like in that photograph / It’s been a while since I had the chance / I’ll play it back for another dance / I wanna know what it felt like in that photograph.” I really like the rich imagery that the band use around the lyrics and the warm tones felt in the instruments further complement the sound they were going for.
Overall, this another solid collection of songs from a band that appears to be getting on a new and impassioned wave of creativity. Even the darker-toned emotions felt on some of the earlier songs don’t detract from enjoying the material as a whole, and it shows just how far Acceptance has come in their songwriting. By painting with a wide breadth of styles and emotions in their music, the band is only further solidifying their rightful place at the forefront of our scene.