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“Way Far Back” by Wave 21

In their new single “Way Far Back,” Canada’s Wave 21 are putting more stock into their lyrical charms than they have previously, arguably putting forth the most poetic set of verses they’ve recorded to date alongside a number of other intriguing deep cuts and singles from their latest record Brace Yourself. While the parent album was released last year, it’s easy to understand why this single is keeping the buzz going into 2022, given the fantastic way it unites the underlying aesthetics of the record with a unique, one of a kind melodic profile that stands on its own just fine. 

Rhythm is a major role player in Brace Yourself, but especially in “Way Far Back.” The beat almost gallops forward, leaping from the speakers and nudging us all the closer to the harmonies between the string section and the lead vocal. There’s nowhere to go but straight ahead, and this band never once hesitates to keep the pace up for the duration of the track. The adrenaline is a lot stronger here than it is in other selections from the LP’s tracklist, but it feels natural – when Wave 21 want to put it in overdrive, they have no trouble switching gears. 

Steve Hill sits in as a guest for this performance, and I think he lends quite the intriguing element to the character of the narrative. Hill’s solo work has been exceptionally thoughtful, and I can feel his influence over the structure of this song, specifically with regards to how the strings always feel like the bones beneath the thrust of the beat and the verse. The chemistry between all of these players is something you have to marvel at, and I think any legit music fan would agree with me on this, Canadian or otherwise. 

Where “Why Does It Happen” and “All over & Over,” the latter featuring Sam Roberts Band, are a little more tension-based in their melodic concept, “My Latest Song For You,” “Dreams” and “Whenever You’re Near” are centered much more on catharsis than they are a pastoral grittiness, and to some extent I think “Way Far Back” is a place where the two styles meet in the middle. Brace Yourself is a very diversified effort from a group of musicians who have myriad influences, but of all of the songs in the tracklist, this might be the most cohesive with regards to the colorful aesthetics of the LP as a whole. 

I’m really looking forward to hearing a little more from Wave 21 in the future, and judging from the response that a lot of critics had to Brace Yourself last year, I’m far from the only curious party. These guys marry the best parts of Canadian country, folk-pop, British indie rock, and a touch of Americana to appeal to a lot of different listeners who normally wouldn’t be buying the same records, and although pinning their style down to one genre is next to impossible, finding some appreciation for what Wave 21 are doing right now is definitely a given. 

Mindy McCall



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