The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | ‘Model’ revitalizes Wallows’ sound, falls flat with repetition

Photo courtesy of Genius
Album cover of “Model” by Wallows, the album was released on May 24.

Rating: 7.6/10

American alternative rock band Wallows released their first single, “Your Apartment,” from their third studio album on Feb. 16, 2024, nearly two years after their second album. The unveiling of the entirety of “Model” — a 12-track, 36-minute record — occurred today, three months later.

The release of five singles — four constituting the top five best songs on the tracklist — throughout those months prepared fans for a vividly vibrant, never-ending record of summer hits — the ones that blare through the car speakers driving down a straight-ahead road, hands dancing out the window with the wind.

Composed of guitarists/vocalists Dylan Minnette and Braeden Lemasters as well as drummer Cole Preston, the band originated in 2017 when they released their first single, “Pleaser,” followed by their EP “Spring” in 2018. Ever since, the trio and the spotlight have gone hand in hand, embarking on a journey as they do throughout “Model.”

The opening track, “Your Apartment,” paves the way with Lemasters on guitar, holding the same rhythmic stroke for seven seconds before Preston relinquishes the drums, followed by Minnette on lead vocals.

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Although optimistically upbeat, the song details the narrator’s failed attempt at creating a newly developed relationship, which seemingly ended mutually. However, throughout the three minutes he sings, Minnette persistently wonders what his used-to-be lover is up to at her apartment.

“But I promise I get your sentiment/ I wonder who’s been at your apartment/ Would you give in or would you relent who’s been trying to get in your bed?” Minnette sings in the chorus.

“Anytime, Always” is the following track, one that can genuinely be played anytime, always. Even though the repetition of these words within the chorus doesn’t set the song up for anything mind-blowingly spectacular, one can’t deny the overall effect it possibly has as another summer hit.

The track lacks notable underlying meaning, with both verses under 15 seconds and repetitive choruses, but the focal point would have to be the instrumental breakdown after the first chorus.

Although exceedingly brief, it constructs a contrastingly brilliant expanse for the guitar, causing one to put their pedal to the metal and perhaps excessively speed on a backroad. 

Tracks three, four and five are all singles, each ranked in the top five alongside “Your Apartment” and track nine, “Don’t You Think It’s Strange.”

“Calling After Me” is vocally led by Minnette again, with the guitar, bass and drums keeping a simple yet catchy tempo. The lyrics illustrate a newly forming relationship, exploring the toxicity and exhilaration of withholding a secret from the public eye.

“Don’t play dumb, I know you fantasize/ You could have me on my back every night/ I don’t mind the things that you’ve been doing/ Think you need someone like me to get through it/ And I know you can see we’ll have people talking/ You know we can be just what they want,” Minnette sings.

A three-and-a-half minute breakaway from Minnette’s overdominance occurs in “Bad Dream,” as Lemasters flips the script, wholly switching to a muddled, slow-mo vibe. However, the synth can never be left behind, strangely intervening after choruses before the following verse.

Most will not choose to feature this on the same playlist as the prior tracks; with an almost wistful sound, the song makes a sharp 180-turn compared to the other tracks, tires screeching on the backroad as the car rolls to the exact speed limit. Despite this, it’s still a hit of its own.

Dual lead vocals are evident in “A Warning” by Minnette and Lemasters, a punchy bass kicking the album back up a notch from the previously muted sound.

The lyrics reference unrequited love as the narrator begrudgingly recognizes their partner is no longer in love with them but is slowly and surely falling out of love.

“Did you cross your fingers when you said forever?/ Did it look the same with the other before me?/ Am I just a name you flip through in your story/ Of people/ You’ve made to love you?” Minnette sings.

The instrumentals are strikingly elevated compared to another loss of a repetitive chorus, with the track title sung three times within each. However, the pre-choruses become one with the instrumentals as both singers venture into their lower register, the rhythmic drums ebbing and abiding, creating a minuscule expanse, the listener eagerly waiting for what’s next — except it’s the same previously installed beat.

Track six is “I Wouldn’t Mind,” but we actually do very much mind. As the only track on the album with vocals by Preston and only the third throughout the band’s discography, it surely attracts attention. 

After three listens — not even consecutively — it’s puzzling to follow as none of the pieces connect. The vocals can’t grasp a hold of the abnormally drum-heavy instrumentals in the background, veering to and from every direction rather than straight ahead. Coated with a bizarre whistled melody, this one is a possible skip.

“I Wouldn’t Mind” is a disappointing track by Preston, especially after his lead vocals on “Quarterback,” a single released in 2021 that’s undeniably memorable.

On track seven, “You (Show Me Where My Days Went),” the synth reappears, flaring throughout the first 15 seconds of the song. The dreamy melody sounds weirdly similar to the aforementioned “Quarterback,” but quickly, the guitar slices through its essence, and a funk vibe seeps through the area.

Though the overall tone is lively, the dreamlike nature from the beginning re-emerges in the pre-chorus, with Minnette floating on echoey vocals before the tactful return to the previously established vibe.

“You’re what I’ve been chasing/ Show me where my days went,” Minnette sings.

When track eight begins, a sparkly and summery intro ensues. “Canada” is immediately promising, though the tone abruptly transitions with intimate and gentle vocals by Minnette. 

With such soft lyrics, it’s difficult to hear them over the resounding instrumentals, meshing with two different intentions. It’s simply mediocre, not even kept as an afterthought.

“Don’t You Think It’s Strange?” is easily the standout track. Track nine sees vocals from Lemasters, and the instrumentals at the beginning bring with them vibes of Portugal. The Man.

Originally performed as an unreleased song on Sept. 23, 2023, at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, Lemasters guides the 12-second opening with an electric guitar, amplifying the audience before the drums’ intensity increases from Preston, crashing profoundly downward for the first verse.

The steady magnitude of “Don’t You Think It’s Strange?” decelerates as Lemasters reaches the second half of the chorus — slowing as he renders the track’s title — almost exemplifying him carelessly escaping from reality yet again without hesitation.

“Even if I look the other way, love/ Doesn’t mean I’ve got nothing to say, love/ I’m just looking for any change up/ Wonder if I’m ever gonna wake up/ Oh, don’t you think that it’s strange,” Lemasters sings in the chorus.

Track 10, “She’s an Actress,” is a stark turnaround from track nine. It’s forgettable at best; at worst, it struggles to seize attention and lacks uniqueness. Sonically, there’s nothing wrong, but it’s nothing fans haven’t heard before. 

Minnette reappears with his almost oddly uncomfortably close vocals, which once again establish no connection with the backing instrumentals. The track feels as though it’s building toward a climactic final chorus, but it instead stumbles, and the song’s atmosphere expands in no direction it hasn’t already covered.

Track 11, “Going Under,” epitomizes the overall album vibe. With full layering and slowed vocals by Lemasters, the dreamy tone persists from earlier tracks.

Strangely, though, Lemasters begins quite literally screaming into the microphone and peaking around two-thirds of the way through the song. Though intentional, the artistic decision will likely be lost on most listeners. 

Throughout the song, fear and worry are conveyed with the lyrics.

“Oh, I’m scared of going under/ Thinking that it’s over with you/ Now my head has hit the pavement/ You’ve been isolating,” Lemasters sings. 

Once he reaches a lyrical breaking point, the somber tone quickly redirects to emotional anguish.

“But you know I would never leave/ Just give me time to think and figure out how I let it get this far/ Now you’re screaming that you’ll lose it all/ I’m so sure that we’ll make it out once more.”

“Only Ecstasy” concludes the record, originally performed at a Lollapalooza aftershow in 2023

Compared to the other album closers produced by Wallows, “Only Ecstasy” trails behind “Do Not Wait” and “Guitar Romantic Search Adventure,” falling victim to repetition. 

Even though it’s the longest song by a minute, lyric significance becomes displaced within the verses, followed by the bridge becoming an assortment of oohs. The atmospheric expanse stirred throughout the other two songs builds upon itself, whereas “Only Ecstasy” leaves the listener tirelessly waiting for more and then some.

As the group’s third album, “Model” complements the rest of their discography well. With frequent themes of otherworldly synthesizers and catchy vocals, it’s reminiscent of driving carefree with a mindless destination on a cool summer evening.

At times, driving fast is in order, and at others, a slower pace is more fitting. For some tracks, the skip button is enticing to ensure good vibes. More notably, the replay button will likely be used often.


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About the Contributors
Jacob Slabosz
Jacob Slabosz, Editor-in-Chief
Hey, I’m Jacob! I am currently a sophomore in computer engineering with a minor in German. I started at The Daily Illini in Fall 2022 as a news reporter and staff photographer, and by Spring 2023, I had worked my way to photo editor. Between March 2023 and March 2024, I was the Managing Editor for Visuals, and I have since taken over as Editor-in-Chief. When I’m not taking pictures for The DI or for fun, I enjoy cooking, water sports and tending to my numerous houseplants. I’m excited to use my background in coding to further automate out workspace processes and to see the content that our team produces!
Chloe Barbarise
Chloe Barbarise, Senior Copy Editor
My name is Chloe Barbarise, and I am a freshman majoring in journalism. I joined The Daily Illini in Fall 2023 as a copy editor and worked my way up to Senior Copy Editor during the second semester. I am honored to have this opportunity and cannot wait to bring you stories complete with AP Style and DI Style edits. When I am not partaking in editing stories for The DI, I am writing, reading or drinking some sort of coffee. I’m very excited to see what lies ahead of us.
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