There’s an alternate dimension where Zahira Gutierrez is a pop sensation. You can hear glimpses of that dimension on the new Wild Moccasins album Look Together, in particular on the low-key Houston song of the summer “Doe-Eyed Dancer.” With its huge hook, featuring some dynamic vocals from Gutierrez and a well-timed “Ha!”, it’s a song begging for a remix EP; it’s the type of track that could work, with the appropriate backing track, as a downbeat tearjerker or a floor-packing house bop. Even with the its current laidback groove, it almost demands you replay it two or three times upon first listen.
While it’s the highlight of the poppier moments of the record, there are other moments where Wild Moccasins show off their sense of melody. The most obvious of these is the album’s title, with it’s big disco-influenced course intersecting with a beat that will, at the very least, have you tapping your foot if not shaking the rest of your body. Most interesting is second half cut “Desired Effect” with its soft synth background and guitar line that add up to a retro feel that would make Spandau Ballet proud.
Of course, you wouldn’t see these moments of melody coming on your initial listen. Look Together starts off with “Boyish Wave,” an aggressive stomper that ranks as one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. It’s unlike anything else on the record, with a dense interplay of guitars, keyboards, and vocals, and should be a beast if it makes it into the band’s live set. The opening, vaguely sinister, synth plucks along should be enough to make your hair stand up.
The press notes for Look Together discuss the origin of the record in the dissolution of Guiterrez’s relationship with Moccasins’ guitarist/vocalist Cody Swann. Lyrically, it’s an album full of lines that would make for great subtweets and Instagram quotes; a personal favorite comes from “Longtime Listener”: “I don’t wear your T-shirt just in case your scent remains.” And while the lyrics are certainly pointed at times—consider “You only want me if you get a chance to change me / You only want me if you get the chance to save me” in “Missing You (The Most)”—it’s not a bitter record.
More than anything, it feels like a record built for long drives where you’re trying to work through your emotions, and late-night dance parties for one. Structurally, it’s post-breakup fury giving way to the deep thoughts about who did what wrong, but set to some pretty fantastic pop-ish songwriting and killer vocal performances. It’s a record you might not need now or tomorrow, but if that time comes, you’ll be glad you have it.