Brooklyn’s Wilder Maker have released their new album Male Models via Western Vinyl with the world. In celebration, they’ve also just dropped the visualizer for the track “Oh Anna” featuring Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) on vocals. Duritz instantly makes the song feel nostalgic and warm, while Birnbaum’s lyrics explore male isolation and social constructs through the metaphor of Michael Jordan’s athleticism.
“For ‘Oh Anna,’ I had the immense and surreal privilege of going to record Adam Duritz on lead vocals at his apartment. He understood the song completely and delivered it with the serrated edge the lyrics demand. Honestly, it’s still wild to hear our voices harmonizing throughout the song. Never saw that one coming,” Gabriel Birnbaum explains.
Ask Gabriel Birnbaum what inspired Male Models – the diverse new album from New York band Wilder Maker – and he’ll mention everything from American novelist James Salter and the NBA playoffs to Thin Lizzy and the delicate tightrope of positive masculinity. These reference points might sound arbitrary to the uninitiated listener, but together they provide some insight into the creation of an album that somehow succeeds at being both an apocalyptic novel of ideas and the most cohesive party playlist that you’ve ever heard.
The music of Male Models was recorded live over several days with a core band that consisted of Birnbaum and longtime collaborators Nick Jost and Sean Mullins. Despite his status as the frontman and principal songwriter of Wilder Maker, Birnbaum’s voice can only be heard singing lead on seven of the twelve songs. The remaining tracks have guest vocalists taking the mic, unveiling an impressive lineup that includes (but isn’t limited to) Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz, Katie Von Schleicher, and Jordan Lee (aka Mutual Benefit). Like guests at a strange afterparty, when you hear these accomplished vocalists recount Birnbaum’s tales of unrequited love, drunkenness, and desperation, it feels almost voyeuristic, as if you were sitting in a crowded cocktail bar, sneaking glances at nearby tables.
Male Models succeeds in capturing the energy of a crowded party and its accompanying playlist without losing the philosophical underpinnings of its concept. Musically, it also changes shape constantly. Across the 12 songs of the album, listeners will hear electrified soul, heartfelt folk songs, indie rock, and searing barn burners, all of which are expertly tethered by Birnbaum’s sardonic and doom-laden storytelling.