Local trio Wilbur‘s new recording “Rittenhouse Suite” spins the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet into a (less tragic) modern day, Philadelphia-centric story set to an indie pop score. At its center, the composition is a witty vignette tracing the trajectory of a relationship between a ritzy Rittenhouse Square resident and her more bare-boned West Philly suitor. But it’s the band’s lyrical execution that really draws you in, a style that pops up in all of Wilbur’s recordings and that was described by The Key’s contributor Sameer Rao as ”self-effacing and equally-prompt punchlines.”
I would add that another of Wilbur’s endearing quirks is their lightly-humorous self-deprecation, as heard in the opening line of “Rittenhouse Suite.” Singer / guitarist Simon Tangney calls out “Yo Miss Rittenhouse, I wanna show you a good time / You oughta know that this low life does like you” before suggesting they grab forties at a deli on 43rd Street. Getting right to the over-arching theme of the suite, Tangney picks up on the cultural divide that is a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor. The track continues with numerous golden lines, like “I don’t know, I won’t ever be rich / these arms ain’t built for holding jobs” and “No I don’t condescend because we don’t pick our friends / we just choose where we hang / and honey I’ve been hating rich kids ever since I was a rich kid.”
Atmospherically, the song’s first two parts would fit well within the roster of Brushfire Records – they’re breezy, warm and raw with reedy drums and comforting acoustic guitars. The third part picks up the pace with singer Kieran Kriss taking over on vocals and adds some electric guitar, resembling early Ra Ra Riot or Vampire Weekend with its playful arrangement and guitar melodies. Matt Bevilacqua fills up the subtly rich low end with both upright and electric bass throughout the song. Take a listen to the premiere of “Rittenhouse Suite” below, and get the full history of Wilbur in this interview.
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