Remi Wolf – ‘Big Ideas’ review: funk-fuelled catharsis

Remi Wolf, photo by Ragan Henderson

Remi Wolf’s music is a kaleidoscope of sounds. Slinky ’70s and ’80s funk and soul, folksy musings, The Flaming Lips-influenced psychedelic flair, and luminous pop hooks are all a part of the Palo Alto-born artist’s sonic world. Indeed, her second album, ‘Big Ideas’, musically lives up to its title. Here you’re just as likely to find funky floor-fillers ready-made for shimmying to at late-night DJ sets (‘Slay Bitch’) as stripped-back, folk-inflected reflections on burnout (‘Just The Start’) or woozy psych-laced numbers that open with frog croaks (‘Frog Rock’).

  • READ MORE: In the eye of the storm: Remi Wolf writes her life with ‘Big Ideas’

The follow-up to her 2021 debut album ‘Juno’, a record NME assessed was “deeply reflective and in-your-face all at once”, was written during two non-stop years of touring. These years saw Wolf consistently on the road away from home, and ‘Big Ideas’ injects the restless energy of being on the road into its genre-splicing sounds. As she told NME recently: “In the year of 2022, I had six weeks at home”. Created in several distinct chunks whenever she was able to squeeze in studio sessions, it illustrates the exhausting rollercoaster that was this time: the complexities of navigating relationships while touring, exhaustion and a life in flux all depicted.

On the lilting, acoustic guitar-led ‘Just The Start’, a track written late at night in a hotel room, she muses, “I don’t want to party/But I don’t really wanna work/Either way I’ll be lonely, either way I’m cursed”, a damning assessment of life on the road and the isolation it can bring. On the ’70s indebted ‘Cinderella’, an electric earworm bolstered by an effervescent bass line and punchy horn section, Wolf evaluates her own insecurities (“Is there something wrong with the way I’m designed?/Can’t find comfort in anything”), before stepping in to offer herself a pep-talk (“Baby girl, won’t you dry your eyes?/Don’t stress because you’re doing it right”).

The fractures that a life constantly on the road can cause in personal relationships are explored, too. On album highlight ‘Soup’, a track Wolf went into writing with the intent to “make a song that sounds like it should be played in an arena”, she muses “I can’t help but make it about me/When you and I are together”. It’s a song that knowingly looks at the push and pull of a partnership, considering the dynamics between two people when you feel like “you’re not holding up your end of the bargain”, as Wolf has explained in a statement about the song.

The intrigue in ‘Big Ideas’ is how these songs never shy away from contradictions or thorny emotions, Wolf’s experiences spun through vibrant sonic worlds. It’s a record that – while injected with a healthy dose of groovy fun – is keenly honest. And although it may be sonically sugar-coated, Wolf’s candid lyrics never are. It’s funk-fuelled catharsis.

Details:

Remi Wolf ‘Big Ideas’ album art

  • Release date: July 12, 2024
  • Record label: EMI

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