New Jersey's Wrens third album The Meadowlands is one of those records that has come to occupy a semi-mythical status for its small band of true devotees over time. Their first record for a number of years, following a run in with the owner of their independent record label who demanded that they produce a more radio friendly sound in return for signing a lucrative new contract. They refused, resulting in a number of wilderness years, with band members required to take full time jobs before finally returning to the fray with this in 2003.
Recorded over a prolonged period of gestation at the bands home studio, it has all the hallmarks of a proper and deeply felt labour of love. An expression of all that pent up frustration, channeled in just the right direction. The degree of emotional investment from everyone concerned is keenly evident throughout . All this fervoured engagement bears fruit mind. It feels like you're listening to one of the most cathartic albums ever made.
It's a special sounding record. Bruised and aching with thirty something pains, but also blessed with the most gorgeous, ringing guitar crafted melodies you could ever wish to hear. An album that is unmistakenly yearning, full of urgency and passion, it immediately registers as something that you want to tell others about. One quite unlike anything you've heard before though it clearly resides in a recognisable space somewhere between Grunge and Emo.
There's not a pause for respite here. The Meadowlands certainly doesn't sound like a record that's particularly comfortable within its own skin but that makes the transcendent beauty that surfaces in waves again and again from track after track all the more treasurable. The Wrens inhabit these songs to a staggering degree. A small, intense classic.