It's probably fair to say that Martin Dosh has been on a bit of a whirlwind ride the past couple years. He released his excellent The Lost Take about eighteen months ago, and has intermittently played shows not only in support of his own work, but toured as part of Andrew Bird's backup band as well (even landing a coveted performance on the David Letterman show). Somewhere along the way, he found time to get back into the studio (or his basement, at least) to record another album, and the guest-contributor laden Wolves And Wishes is the result.
Bird returns the favor here by playing violin on several songs, but Dosh is also joined by reed player Mike Lewis, Andrew Broder (Fog), Odd Nosdam, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and a slew of other Minneapolis and otherwise based musicians. "Don't Wait for the Needle to Drop" kicks things off, and its clear that although this is definitely another Dosh album, there are a few small new wrinkles as well. Sparkling with chimes and some rumbling percussion, Bird and Broder veer off each other with violin and guitar respectively, taking the song from light and percolating to dense and soaring. "Bury The Ghost" is even more odd, featuring hollering wordless vocals from the aforementioned Will Oldham as it careens through passages of blistering drums and more slab-like drones.
Really, there isn't a stinker on the entire release, and many tracks are easily the best thing that Dosh has done to date. "If You Want To, You Have To" is just under five minutes of absolute bliss, starting with stuttering guitar and some pretty piano before launching into a propulsive track that blends together everything from playful synths to violin and guitar while racing forward with a gleeful pace that's punctuated with rapid-fire bursts of snares and wordless vocals. "Hit and Pearls" also features a small choir of voices, and although it doesn't progress with a typical 'pop' structure, it's probably one of the most mainstream (and downright nice sounding) things he's released to date.
My only real problem with Wolves And Wishes is that in certain places, songs progress and play out too similarly to some of his previous work. There's a familiar spiraling keyboard passage here, a stair-stepping guitar progression there, and a sort of overall familiar feel that makes this release largely feel like The Lost Take redux. It's not an entirely bad thing, though, because this is a joyous little album that doesn't sound quite like anything else out there. Another release from Dosh that shouldn't fly under the radar.