Like many people, American Aquarium entered my radar with Burn. Flicker. Die. I recently had a loss in my family, and that's the album that got me through it. Not because it's sad, but because it's about rejecting where you've come from to forge your own path. (Yeah, that kind of family member.)
Wolves, on the other hand, is less about angry defiance and more about taking stock: of the past, the future, of big decisions, of aging. (As much as I adore "Losing Side of 25," though, it's a little alarming to think I've already peaked.)
Though the themes are the same, the band is branching out musically. The band is a lot looser this time, with an extended almost jazz-like intro to the first track, "Family Problems." For many reasons, including lead singer and writer BJ Barham's commitment to staying clean, the album is a much more sober affair. Perhaps this is a return to form for the band; I don't know, since I'm not familiar with their older music. I do know that the new stuff is excellent. The band played through most of Wolves when I saw them at the Mercury Lounge about a month ago. As my date pointed out, "Wow. These lyrics just cut you."
If this is a boat you haven't boarded -- for whatever reason -- Wolves is just as good a place as any to start your love affair with American Aquarium. Wolves is far and away one of the best albums (and I do mean album as a unit) you'll hear this year.
American Aquarium -- Official, Facebook, Purchase