Saturday, December 14th, 2019

Vulfpeck – Half of the Way

The museum pieces of tomorrow, today!


Will Adams: The friendly jangle in the verse gives me “Saturday In the Park,” the chorus aims to give me indie pop soar, but neither are done with a particular flair, and it’s all rather polite. You might even say it only goes ha[SIGNAL DROPPED]

Alfred Soto: Is this Ben Folds Five? World Party? I don’t get this whey-voiced polite keyboard friskitude. 

Iain Mew: Improbably, indie Michael Bublé is a style that turns out to be even more skin-crawling in practice than in theory. 

Kylo Nocom: God, nobody gentrifies funk as charmingly as Vulfpeck. “Back Pocket,” “Animal Spirits,” and “Mr. Finish Line” are some of the most embarrassingly dumb songs of all time and yet I eat each and every one of them up for just being complete glee. This highlights exactly what makes “Half of the Way” pretty disappointing: it’s too normal! Theo Katzman, without Christine Hucal to guide him, is too vanilla a performer to make the blander than par lyrics as lovable as they could be. And that isn’t to say that Christine Hucal isn’t vanilla either, but Vulfpeck do a pretty good job at making vanilla sound good when their collaborators are more confident. “Half of the Way” is still sweet, no doubt, but it’d be wrong to introduce Vulfpeck to somebody with a song as pedestrian as this.

Natasha Genet Avery: Now that I’m no longer a member of a college jam band who routinely plays “Outro” for an audience of distracted, wine-drunk co-op kids, I can look back and acknowledge that Vulfpeck has been corny all along.

Edward Okulicz: The best way I can describe, and describe my approval for this corn-fest is that it’s like someond did to 70s AM radio pop the same thing that some vandals did to old black-and-white films when colourising them. In other words, this sounds like a touch-up brightening job done with an algorithm; an imagination of a world with less technology and fidelity when even the cheapest production sounds like its parents’ idea of money. I mean, sure it’d be a 9 if it were Bruno Mars doing it, but this is eager to please and plenty able too. Am I giving most of the points for that killer middle eight? Yes, but I’d wade through treacle for it, and I do.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Vulfpeck is, by’s recognizing, my tenth most listened to artist of all time. The rest of the top ten are musicians I’ve cherished since childhood, or at least since formative teendom. I started listening to Vulfpeck in 2017. They are perhaps the most listenable band I’ve ever heard. This is not necessarily a compliment. Vulfpeck’s appeal comes from their precision, the craftsmanship with which this rotating group of LA/Ann Arbor-based music school dudes make 60s/70s R&B pastiche. No note is out of place, no moment not perfectly engineered and compressed. That’s also why they get eye rolls — it’s theory-kid funk cosplay! A song like “Half of the Way” is a best case scenario for Vulfpeck, a piece where the manicured individual elements breathe together until they become something more lively. The spring of pianos, the strain of Theo Katzman’s falsetto, the squelchy synth breakdown are all gorgeous museum pieces, but arranged together in a way that sings with emergent properties. It’s a simple love song, no less sincere for its constructedness.

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2 Responses to “Vulfpeck – Half of the Way”

  1. “whey-voiced” is definitely in my vernacular now, thank you for that turn of phrase, Alfred

  2. No whey!

    Thanks, Iris!