The Wrong Words are a trio out of San Francisco, California, consisting of lead singer/guitarist Josh Miller, bassist Ajax Green, and drummer Layla Cooper. Though I hate to categorise any band –and subsequently come off as a music ponce—because it only comes back to bite them in the end when they find themselves painted into a corner, the comparisons to The Turtles are expected. But while Josh Miller’s voice does strongly resemble Howard Kaylan’s emotion-soaked, but nevertheless guttural vocals, The Wrong Words have updated the Turtles for a modern society, where some of The Turtles’ more flowery songs come off as a tad dated. If you have no clue where I’m going with this, just imagine a testudine with a massive pair of bollocks. Ipso facto, The Wrong Words manage to maintain a hard edge, while still having a brilliantly acute and honed sense of melody.
But that is where we must cut their ties with any water-worn chelonians (you know I can keep these turtle synonyms coming), because they truly do have a sound all to their own. Josh Miller’s vocals wonderfully stand out when so many other male vocalists today sing like they’re crying into their bedroom pillow. Cooper’s drumming also provides a lot of the backbone that moves the group along, unafraid to lay heavy on the tom-toms, and in fact, both Cooper and Green make for one tight rhythm section. It’s a pleasant surprise nowadays when you get a bassist more concerned with playing against and with the drummer, rather than how intricate their bass line is.
Amazingly, every song on this record plays like a greatest hits or a singles anthology, from a group already five albums in, not like a group that just released their debut. There’s not much experimentation here, but it’s not needed, and if anything, it would get in the way of their three minute or less bursts of pure unadulterated pop. That’s always been the best music. It doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, and this album is fine debut to be proud of. I give it 4 out of a possible 5 Mark Volmans.