One of the things to keep in mind about Wronger is that, according to the accompanying press release, it was “written and recorded sporadically over the last year or so, when each member wasn’t focused on feeding their families, detailing race cars or doing sound” for various other bands. Due to this, there’s a good deal of inconsistancies to be found throughout the effort. One of them winds up being the overall volume levels. Some songs are just louder than others, such as “Mouth Dump” and “Make Sure to Forget” making you turn your speakers down with the sudden increase, while turning them back up for the much quieter “Bug Boy” and “Wronger”, the latter actually coming off incredibly boring due to how stifled it all sounds. There’s also subtle things like changes in the depth of guitar distortion on a song-by-song basis, not to mention varying degrees of raw and digital production qualities, all of which give the listening the sensation of listening to a compilation than a proper sophomore album.
In keeping with the noise aspect of the group’s sound, Wronger kicks off with a near three minute track composed largely of loud chords and feedback, setting up an oppressive to the point of obnoxious atmosphere the rest of the release doesn’t quite live up to. “Bet It All On Black”, for example, has more of a mid-tempo punk influence. Even the vocals are a little more on the harmonic side as opposed to being as abrasive as sandpaper on other cuts. It’s a solid performance until the pace slows by three-and-a-half minutes in. The use of the guitar to come through more like an organ from a sixties rock album is a nice touch one might glance over the first time through, especially if not paying attention, and is really the only glimmering piece by that point. The gradual shift to more of a doom metal crawl is handled well enough to make it feel natural, but the music itself suffers greatly from it, turning infectious hooks to generic riffs and drum patterns that abruptly pull you out of the song, leaving you to wait through the last ninety seconds to move on.
Really, it’s when the material gets a little heavier, or heads into more of a sludge direction, that Wronger really starts to stand out. “Amateur Hour in Dick City” is reminiscent of that signature dirty sound and groove Unsane carries, or even Pearl Jam sometimes, though the guitar solo takes it from a fairly grounded, swampy state to an uplifted, almost enlightened one for a brief period of time. “Mope” actually introduces itself with a brief industrial sounding presence thanks to how beefy the distortion of the guitars wind up. From here, it’s like you’re rubbing your face along a cheese grater, hitting you with loud bass lines, mechanical sounding instruments, and an unforgivingly bleak melody from time to time that only aids in making this track spiritually crushing, especially in comparison of the very track that hits just prior.
Finally, there’s the material that offers little to the album in general. As mentioned earlier, “A Great Blight” establishes the band’s noise element, but proves pointless in the fact that this effort has more of a rock foundation with the oft mathcore presence being the closest it comes to that style. Then there’s “Mouth Dump”, which is just two people discussing how others think they know more or better often are a danger to humanity, even when their intentions are noble. This topic is layered over a banjo and drum pattern that sets up a random southern tone that rarely shows itself and feels forced for the sake of intellectual conversation guised as something cheeky and humorous before it starts to literally turn into a bubbling vat of noise. It at least makes an alright introduction to “Make Sure to Forget”, but the song ends so abruptly just past two minutes in that you can’t help but feel this dirty sounding performance had at least double the time left on the cutting room floor somewhere.
While a little more refined musically compared to You Ruined Everything, it doesn’t quite feel as powerful or emotionally charged, giving up the unique enough raw attitude for the sake of catchy rock inspired riffs. Sure, that’s the point of this effort, and in that respect it does a good job most of the time. Despite it being a forty-minute plus album, that “sporadic” approach makes Wronger actually sound more like a compilation than it does one major recording, let alone a proper follow-up. In fact, this would have flowed a lot smoother if it were a two or three EP series as opposed to forcing it all to somehow work out as a full-length release. This isn’t to say it all sounds generic or bad, as there are some solid tracks that are still worth checking out. It’s just that Wronger shows some growth from the band, but ultimately sounds like a step in the wrong diretion for Pigs.