Today, Wilder Maker has released a special new project, the Male Models album. This beautifully layered work is chock-full of intimate inspirations, exciting featured artists, and fun audio nuggets throughout.  Out today via Western Vinyl, Male Models features a dynamic roster of musicians, including singer-songwriter Gabriel Birnbaum, accompanied by Nick Jost and Sean Mullins. 

Truly an eclectic group, the Brooklyn-based band members play regularly with Debo Band, Mutual Benefit, Baroness, Kevin Garrett, Johanna Samuels, and Hannah Cohen. Male Models features guest lead vocalists: Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), Katie Von Schleicher, Felicia Douglass (Dirty Projectors, Ava Luna), Alex Schaaf (Yellow Ostrich), V.V. Lightbody, and Mutual Benefit. 

Wilder Maker, courtesy of NYS Music

Gabriel Birnbaum of Wilder Maker has a keen songwriting sense, one infused by quite the mishmash of personal influence. But in this post-postmodern world, who doesn’t love a little pastiche? And while Male Models is signposted by many indications of Birnbaum’s own wandering muses, he mentions that this album is chiefly colored with insights from the likes of American novelist James Salter, takeaways front he NBA playoffs, and Irish rock band Thin Lizzy who showcase, for Birnbaum, the delicate tightrope of positive masculinity.

While this staggering number of featured artists–-someone new on almost every song!––and confusing maelstrom of influence may seem overwhelming, it all comes together really quite nicely in Male Models. Wilder Maker has created an album characterized largely by classic indie-folk sounds, peppered here and there with little gems of classic rock and electrified soul. 

Funnily enough, Male Models starts off with a “Letter of Apology” from Birnbaum. Released earlier as a single, “Letter of Apology” is a fabulous window into the songwriting capabilities of Wilder Maker’s leading man. “Sorry that I told your sister’s boyfriend that he was history’s greatest monster. I got up on a chair and announced to the party that we were all living in a fiction,” sings Birnbaum––a wonderfully comedic, Holden Caulfield-esque narratorial line. Birnbaum’s literary voice shines through in this track which, by the end, doesn’t seem quite like the heart-felt “I’m sorry” you might have been expecting. The garage-rock drum beat and twangy guitar adds to this track’s angsty, manic, and existential vibe. Maybe our protagonist still has some growing to do.

Visualizer for “Letter of Apology”

Soulful female vocalist Felicia Douglass features on “A Professional,” the next song on Male Models. Douglass is one of many accompanying female voices on the album––a healthy dose of feminine energy in an album that might, at first, to be fielded in the male arena. But like the other featured artists, Douglass is singing Birnbaum’s words; yeah, the strange stories of the guy we hear in “Letter of Apology.” What sort of androgenous everyman is this?, the listener might wonder. Whatever sort of musical Orlando this album is, we’re totally here for it. 

Visualizer for “A Professional”

Mutual Benefit and Yellow Ostrich are featured on two classic indie-folk tracks; “New Anxiety” and “Surfers Trace” round out the first half of Male Models with that dreamy, beachy quality so often heard in this generation’s folk sensibilities. But unwilling to ease up so soon, these two songs are broken up by a more upbeat, jangly jam “Static.”

Invigorating the album with its second wave is “All Power Must Remain Hidden.” This faster, punkish track is gritty, angsty, but noticeably reigned in. Wilder Maker never lets it rip, not even on the albums harder tracks, in a way that is both impressively dialed in and potentially evidence of some sort of boyish insecurity. In line with the themes of this album, the quality of Wilder’s harder stuff compliments Male Models’ incredibly uncertain narrator who seems to just be figuring things out as he goes. 

Katie Von Scheilcher appears on a couple of the album’s evening tracks, “Silver Car” and single release “Against Numbers.” A familiar voice adds some structure to what is otherwise a sonically amorphous album––constantly changing, but never at odds with itself. The affect is as intended: a philosophical album writhing in the throes of Birnbaum’s sardonic and doom-laden storytelling. 

Visualizer for “Against Numbers”

As it turns out, this mishmash style of Male Models is relatively similar to the listening praxis of Wilder Maker themselves. “We all listen to playlists a lot, even us album diehards” Birnbaum admits to Brooklyn Vegan, “I’ve been keeping an ever-expanding playlist of songs that I never want to skip, with all of these different voices back to back. I wanted to make a record that sounded like a playlist in this way; it became a kind of songwriting challenge for me.” 

Male Models cover art, courtesy Brooklyn Vegan

Coming out just in time for your Friday night, Male Models could be the soundtrack to your summertime get together this weekend. With all of its featured artists, experimental sounds, and cosmic genre gumbo, guests might think you curated a playlist just for the night. Stream Male Models now on all platforms and connect with Wilder Maker on Twitter, InstagramSpotify, Bandcamp, and Facebook for more updates!

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