"The desire to reach the stars is ambitious, the desire to reach hearts is wise," goes the quote by celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou. It's also an appropriate mission statement for Wild Pink's gorgeous third full-length, 'A Billion Little Lights'.
While there's an evident preoccupation with the universe at large and our place in it, Wild Pink also find beauty in nature and hope in the mundane. These are not new themes for the New York trio – they've spent the past half-decade wrestling with similar ideas across their self-titled debut and 2018 breakout 'Yolk In The Fur' – but never has their ambition matched the execution quite as well as it does here.
You see, 'A Billion Little Lights' sounds – and we cannot stress this enough – massive.
It's an album for clear nights where the universe's beauty and sheer scale can be pulled into widescreen focus. It might be a literal title – especially for a band with a habit of obscuring sharp themes behind densely-wrapped lyrics – but it spells out John Ross' desire to make his audience think about time and space while sitting with the record.
And while it's easy to get lost in the themes and sky-scraping melodies, there's a grounded, earthen beauty to the compositions, embellished by rich slide guitars, fiddles and saxophones. There's even space for some clever autotuning, and a star turn on guest vocals by Ratboys' Julia Steiner, meaning Ross' bold ideas are complemented by a suitably rich and ambitious soundtrack.
Consequently, songs like 'Family Friends', 'Oversharers Anonymous' and 'You Can Have It Back' are easily-enjoyable slices of indie-rock perfection, marrying a mid-paced anthemic tempo with lush instrumentation, lofty themes and a healthy dose of wit.
Better still, nothing on 'A Billion Little Lights' sounds rushed. It's an album which moves steadily through at its own pace, like a planet slowly turning on its axis. It's hard to imagine that five years ago, on their debut EP, Wild Pink were crashing through five songs in 11 minutes, but by pausing for breath and gazing skywards, they've found purpose and meaning. The result is an album for the ages.