If We Have the Cracks feels like a throwback, that’s because it is. This album may have been released in 2018, but it was written and recorded in its entirety in the early-to-mid-‘90s. It compiles the full recorded works of little-known Chicago indie band Wendyfix, whose members parted ways in 1995 to pursue their individual interests (as recent college graduates are wont to do). Now, over 20 years later, Wendyfix’s various studio sessions have been compiled into one tidy package and given a remaster courtesy of Joe Lambert, and while the results may not quite match up against the best records of indie’s golden age, it’s still a perfectly enjoyable slice of ‘90s nostalgia.
If your knowledge of indie begins with American Authors and ends with Walk the Moon, We Have the Cracks might be a bit of a shock at first. See, Wendyfix hails from the Dinosaur Jr./Sonic Youth/Pavement school of indie, the kind that wasn’t angry enough to be “punk” but was too weird and noisy to be “alternative rock.” That means most of the tracks here are drenched in thick layers of guitar fuzz, but underneath it all is a collection of simple, effective rock songs with a slackerly disposition and a whole lot of charm. Vocalist Ted Pauly may not be a particularly dextrous singer, but his voice lends these songs a distinct character that would be lost with more vocal polish. Todd Hyman and Jon Solomon make for a impressively tight rhythm section, managing to seem sloppy and off-the-cuff while always remaining in control. While Wendyfix fares well on more subdued cuts like “Blue Coal” and “Crayon Portraits,” it’s the louder tracks such as “Slow” and “Jujube” where the band really shines, Pauly’s sandy drawl blending in nicely with that sweet, sweet pedal distortion and Hyman pounding away on the kit.
At the end of the day, We Have the Cracks may be a relic of a bygone era, but for anyone with fond memories of that era (or even just a love of weird, loud guitar music), it’s a succinct crash course in everything that made ‘90s indie so exciting.