In the world of band names, animals are portrayed as being particularly vicious little bastards. Pulled Apart by Horses, Cancer Bats and Them Crooked Vultures all throw up images of evil creatures destined to cause harm to us Homosapiens. Joining that list are a band who have just released their new album, Wild Animals. They are called (quite magnificently I might add) Trampled by Turtles.
Hailing from Duluth Minnesota, Trampled by Turtles have been a staple in the US bluegrass scene since 2004, their brand of uplifting acoustic infecting audiences through their previous six studio albums. Album seven then, and long term fans will be happy to hear that they’ve stuck to the winning formula employed over previous efforts, if albeit executed in a different manner. No Dylan goes electric moments to be found on this LP.
Title track ‘Wild Animals’ kicks things off with intent. Previously known for their 100mph performances, vocalist Dave Simonett announced that this time round more emphasis was to be placed on other aspects of their playing. With warm harmonies and an uplifting blend of instrumentation present from the get go, listeners are hearing a side of the band less ventured this time round.
The theme continues through highlights ‘Repetition’ and ‘Nobody Knows’, both of which maintain the enthusiasm and joy from faster efforts but are translated to a slower tempo. It’s not all smooth sailing for the quintet however. ‘Are You Behind the Shining Star’ is by numbers indie folk, which makes its selection to be performed in front of a national audience on Letterman all the more perplexing, whilst ‘Silverlight’ is bland in its execution.
Fortunately the band don’t abandon their love for the frantic completely. ‘Come Back Home’ and ‘Western’ inject a shot of adrenaline to proceedings in a way in which only they could, with fiddles flying and bedazzling banjos . Think Mumford and Sons on crack.
All in all, Wild Animals feels like a band evolving into a larger, more versatile act. Having created a solid foundation and perfecting the art of speed folk, their forays into new territory are largely triumphant and portray a group with all conquering ambitions.
That name though. Can you imagine what that would look like? Fear not; although Trampled by Turtles may sound like a horrendous way to die, they are in fact a pleasant soundtrack for a sunny afternoon.
Wild Animals is out now via Thirty Tigers.