I didn’t really know what to expect after seeing the album cover, but after learning of Vienna-based Wagner’s influences I can see they wear them comfortably on their sleeve.
Debut album Awkward Hearts, blends together many styles including funk, pop, soul and rock with similarities to the likes of Jamiroquai, Paolo Nutini and Jack Johnson. A lot of these sounds were hugely popular in the 2000’s and now it still sounds quite fresh in comparison to a lot of other artists out there.
The talent portrayed here with Wagner demonstrates a wide vocal range and musicianship. Whilst it is applaudable that the band incorporate many different styles, my main issue with the album is how it flows and potentially fits too many flavours into this music cake.
I am enthralled by the sweet funky rhythms of opening track ‘Boy’ but feel like I’ve been teased as I have to wait until track four ‘A Good Lie’ (credits to the insatiable bass patterns on these two tracks) to revisit that same style and furthermore another long wait until track 8 ‘A Foreigner’.
Whilst ‘Right In Front Of Me’ is a sugar-sweet rock/pop ballad, it really throws a curveball to the mood I have been taking in so far and would prefer to see this track as a dramatic finisher to the album. Lead vocalist Wagner’s vocals really shine on the self-titled track as they’re carried along by a slow and bluesy piano/acoustic beat and bleed emotion. What strikes me most about this track as well, around 04:30 in you think all is said and done, but there’s still room for a Led Zeppelin-esc encore of fat guitars and wailing vocals.
The later half of the album repeats my previous problem of how these songs’ different genres don’t exactly flow into each other with the electrifying guitar work of Lonely In Space (imagine Jamiroquai meets 80s shredding guitars) and is automatically halted with the slow ‘Today’.
The album meets a romantic end with piano-based track ‘Lover’s Mind’ and it can be said there is credit due for the amount of effort and craftsmanship that Wagner The Band displays in 11 tracks, but it just doesn’t flow nicely for me and feels awkward in places. If you’re wanting a mixture of funk rock and pop then look no further, but this isn’t one I’ll be returning to.