The sophomore EP from Buffalo, New York emo-rockers Wild Once expands upon their ideas they tinkered with on their debut, with mostly favorable results. Much like their debut, Perennials, their heart on their sleeve lyrics mesh well with the indie rock sound brought forth by the four-piece band. Led by vocalist/guitarist Tom Mayer, his prominent take on songwriting makes for an overall enjoyable listening experience. Wild Once is rounded out by guitarist Anthony Granica, bassist Jay Fritzius, and drummer Matt Bratcher, and each of these musicians brings plenty to the table. We Did It Anyway was recorded in late 2019 with producer Jay Zubricki (Every Time I Die, Beach Slang), but due to the on-going pandemic, they mostly shelved the promotion cycle of this EP until quietly releasing it for their fans this past Friday. This collection of five songs mesh well together and showcase the improvements of the band as they move forward in their career.
The record opens cautiously with a humming guitar riff on “Alone by Choice” that eventually breaks away to the precise percussion of drummer Matt Bratcher. Vocalist Tom Mayer’s voice teeters on the edge of the punk sneer of Bayside’s Anthony Raneri and the intricate croon of American Football’s Mike Kinsella. In fact, a lot of this EP reminds me of the songwriting style found on the first two American Football records, and Wild Once have almost created a “love letter” of sorts that style of emo music. Songs such as “Your Sins” are reminiscent of the soft-loud dynamics mastered by staples in this scene, and rock with a similar swagger.
”The Meadows” is another track that builds to a promising crescendo of rock bliss, and the verses are carefully crafted to lead to a rewarding chorus. Mayer sings on the hook, “What happens next / Stay where it happens / Don’t have the guts to bring it home,” and its hard to not hang on his every word, as he comes across as an authentic storyteller.
”We Knew It Would Come To This” cranks up the tempo quite a bit from the brooding style of the first three tracks, and features some underrated drumming from Bratcher. Mayer continues to expand upon the thematic elements of starting anew and making amends for the past by carving out his own space in the emo rock realm. The band is very much in tune to what each member is doing, and they never crowd into each other’s creative space. Instead, each member fits well into the puzzle that they have assembled on this record.
Album closer “Trophy Girls” is another take on social situations, as Mayer sings about the struggles of disconnecting from our electronic devices in order to get the undivided attention of others. His struggle with relationships is relatable and the song does a good job of wrapping up the thoughts brought forth on the record.
Wild Once are on the cusp of something great here, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they start to garner the type of attention they deserve in the music scene. With an EP filled with professional sounding hooks, excellent musicianship, and improved songwriting, there should be plenty for listeners both new and old to take away from the listening experience. This band is one to watch as the pandemic clears, since they could be just a few well-placed billings on the right tours to make their well-deserved breakthrough.