His career began with both disjointed pop and minor controversy via shrewd media hoaxes ("Bill Gates Must Die"), but in the decade-plus since Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, John Vanderslice has sidled alongside like-minded, if not sonically similar songwriters like Andrew Bird and Sondre Lerche. Each of them are wry, cerebral and consistent, almost to a fault. If indie rock had a health food section, they'd be in stock.
White Wilderness is the Vanderslice album that goes the furthest out of its way to be good for you: It was recorded with 19 members of the Magik Magik Orchestra, yet put to tape in merely three days, suggesting a tension between the chin-stroking appeal of its studied instrumentation and the relatively improvisatory writing process. And yet, both play off each other in a way that makes the record feel disjointed: While the occasional piquant lyric or cyclical melody can distinguish a highlight like "Convict Lake," the literal bells and whistles can make Wilderness a bit dry and fussy. Nonetheless, its snack-sized portion — nine songs, 31 minutes — suggest it's a brief detour for a restless, creative mind.