New York trio Wild Pink have announced their fourth full-length, ILYSM, coming Oct. 14 on Royal Mountain Records. The follow-up to 2021’s acclaimed A Billion Little Lights reckons with vocalist/guitarist John Ross’ recent struggles with cancer (he is currently “in the surveillance phase of recovery,” per a press release), and features contributions from J Mascis, Julien Baker, Ryley Walker, Yasmin Williams, Julia Steiner (Ratboys), Samantha Crain, David Moore (Bing & Ruth), Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner (Magnolia Electric Co., Badly Drawn Boy) and Jeremy Viner (Bing & Ruth).
“Even though I’d already started working on the record, everything took on new meaning after my diagnosis,” Ross explains in a statement. “I started writing songs that tried to make sense of the whole experience, including the love and support I felt from the people in my life—particularly my wife, which is where the title came from.”
ILYSM’s title track exists somewhere between The War on Drugs and LCD Soundsystem, with thrumming synth and Dan Keegan’s steadying drums driving an instrumental entwined in atmospheric piano and guitar. Ross’ gentle vocals hang in the air like clouds as he recounts a dreamlike encounter with the love of his life, backed by Steiner. Later, an oceanic guitar solo divides the song in two—in its second life, “ILYSM” is even dreamier and more danceable, with Ross conjuring gorgeous, pastoral images (“You disappeared under a Catalpa tree / And you moved just like smoke from wet wood / With dandelion seeds falling all around you just like summer snow”).
Ross co-produced ILYSM alongside Justin Pizzoferrato (Pixies, Body/Head, Speedy Ortiz) and Peter Silberman of The Antlers, resulting in the band’s “most experimental work to date.” Wild Pink—Ross, bassist Arden Yonkers and drummer Keegan—recorded the bulk of the album at Sonelab in Easthampton, Massachusetts, departing from the process behind A Billion Little Lights in one critical way. “I wanted to make a record with more organic elements than the last one,” says Ross. “Playing live in the room together as a band was very important to me—I really leaned on them to bring their talents to the table, which they did.”
The writing and recording process found Ross working through his cancer battle, essentially in real time: “I was actually back in another cancer surgery within a week of wrapping up the recording,” he recalls. “It was pretty surreal to record this album knowing I had cancer in my lymph nodes—but since I couldn’t have the surgery any sooner, I just stuck with my studio time.”
“Writing about all this has helped me process my experience, or even just acknowledge that I still don’t completely understand how I feel about it,” says Ross. “It’s been a very confusing, overwhelming time, and hopefully it’ll offer some kind of comfort to anyone else who’s feeling overwhelmed or confused too.”
Check out “ILYSM” below, plus a 2018 Wild Pink session from the Paste archives, and find the details of ILYSM further down.
01. Cahooting The Multiverse
02. Hold My Hand feat. Julien Baker
03. Hell Is Cold
05. St. Beater Camry
06. Abducted At The Grief Retreat
07. War On Terror
08. Simple Glyphs
09. See You Better Now
10. Sucking On The Birdshot
11. The Grass Widow In The Glass Window