Radiator Hospital – Something Wild

Sam Cook-Parrott, principal songwriter in Radiator Hospital, seems like a nice guy. If you stopped by his house unexpectedly on a Thursday afternoon, there’s a good chance he’d be sitting in his kitchen listening to Motown/Stax records, eating a bowl of cereal. He’d probably offer you some cereal. You’d decline because you were just riding your bike past his house and wanted to stop in to tell him you really enjoyed his new record, but didn’t get to tell him in person outside of the DIY space he played last night because you had to head home to walk your dog before it got too late. You’d leave his house with a few of his songs stuck in your head, wishing, however, that you could really tell him what you thought of his record, but just couldn’t bring yourself to do so. He’s just too nice of a guy.

Something Wild, a collection of 13 songs released on Salinas Records, is Radiator Hospital’s debut long player. The songs range from cloyingly twee tunes to punk pop anthems to introspective ballads. A good reference point for this sound, and Cook-Parrott’s nasally register that accompanies it, would be early Elephant 6 staples The Gerbils. Maybe it’s the inconspicuous lo-fi production or the handful of classic pop songs sprinkled throughout. The inconsistency of the record, however, is hard to get past.

The crown jewel of Something Wild is “Our Song,” written from the perspective of the significant other who is finally seeing the signs of the relationship’s demise, whether he wants to or not. With cleverly cryptic lyrics like “every other morning I wake up to find that you’re gone/ the note says you went for a jog/ maybe you’re just tired of sleeping in/ or maybe you’d rather be running away” are sung to impossibly catchy fuzzy guitars and spastic drumming. This is a boorishly descriptive song in the vein of the Mountain Goats’ epic “No Children.”  It’s that good.

The disparate styles on the record lack a cohesive sonic narrative and many of the solo songs feel like unfinished ideas. Where Radiator Hospital excels is in their fuzzy punk pop full band anthems. Cook-Parrott and friends really hit the mark on these. Otherwise, Something Wild feels excessive and overindulgent. Pleasantries aside, maybe next time you visit Sam you should express how you really feel about his record and tell him to stick with the full-band tunes.

Radiator Hospital
Something Wild
[Salinas]