The fuzzy Raleigh rock band WOOL exists in a crowded field. It's spent the past few years building a local following while developing its sound, sharing dates with the likes of The Love Language and Gross Ghost, reliably restless and dramatic outfits that help set the standard for Triangle pop. The quartet's debut EP, Delta, billows with cozy distortion and arresting guitar lines, expressing melancholy at a brisk pace. It's a catchy debut, no doubt, but at this early stage, it still does little to distinguish WOOL within an already busy frame.
The production is crisp and balanced, allowing the various intricacies of the group's dense sound to breathe. Opener "Mountain" bolts awake with a churning riff lightened by prickling fills. Neither overpowers the other, complicating the arrangement without muddying it. The players leap into a splendid bridge, where a dynamic bass line spars with elastic riffs. On the more aggressive "Heavy Things," violent guitar undercurrents lend a sinister edge to the band's surge.
But more often than not, these tracks feel like instrumentals. Lead singer Troy Brian Hancock's vocals are buried deep in the mix, obscured by a fog of static and reverb. That may work texturally, providing a wispy foil to the band's hefty instrumentals. And with effort, you can make out what Hancock's saying—"Wish what you will/ Stomachs turn ill," he whispers bluntly at one point. But like the recent successes of Ducktails or Kurt Vile, this music wants to wash over you and take hold by sweeping you in. Hancock, however, makes you work too much for that effect, and as a result, Delta is an intimate record that never feels very personal.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Standing out or settling in."