I’m not going to lie. On the first listen, I thought Seattle’s Wild Orchid Children really laid a huge dud with their new album The Wild Orchid Children Are Alexander Supertramp. It just sounded like a bloodied jumble of hyped-up Portugal. The Man with The Mars Volta-like meandering tendencies, but with less guitar noodling and more Grateful Dead stylings. In other words: a smorgasbord of genre-mixing with genres that just can’t really mix, no matter how hard you force it. But I felt like a band as ragingly confusing as Wild Orchid Children deserves a little extra attention, and I am glad that I gave the crazed psych/funk rock outfit the time of day.
The album opens with vocals that are reminiscent of The Blood Brothers’ wailer Johnny Whitney — high-pitched, abrasive, and all-around unpleasant. But as the album really kicks in with “Black Shiny FBI Shoes,” it is clear that Wild Orchid Children is more about the instrumentation. Guitarist Thomas Hunter throws in some absolutely delightful vintage rock riffs, with the synths blasting an acid-relapse flavor over the whole thing. The song is a bit like learning how to drive, by placing a heavy emphasis on the brakes as it starts and stops, all at the whim of vocalist Kirk Huffman’s terrible wail. Just as the song gets going, Wild Orchid Children delves into a tribal jam beat… for quite a few minutes. This jam ends and flows more into a lighthearted jam session ala Portugal. The Man, before finally closing out with more of the guitars and synths jammed down your throat. However, at 18 minutes, the song is rather long and meandering without purpose for much of the time. But when it is clicking, the psych sounds are enough to make you think you are in the 1970s, even if you never experienced the decade.
Other songs like “Ahead Of Us The Secret” and “Martha Washington Go To War” carry this same style. Wild Orchid Children gets a head full of steam and charges away before it all breaks down into a sloppy mess of mushed genres and energy. The focus is off, but the heart and the skill is there. Because when …Are Alexander Supertramp is clicking, it is a rock and roll blast leaving you on the edge of your seat, with you demanding more, while worrying about what might get thrown your way. Wild Orchid Children is less about fine-tuned music and more about the tye-dye aesthetics of doing as you please and hoping it turns out to be palpable.