- 14 Mar 18
Ahead of Wilson's headline Whelan's show this Thursday night, Pat Carty ties a rope around his waist and wades in
Those expecting the laid-back west coast sound from previous records like 2011’s Gentle Spirit are in for a shock. The big production on the title track of 2013’s Fanfare offered hints, but Wilson’s gone full mad auteur here.
Perhaps better known for helping out Dawes and Father John Misty, it’s Wilson’s work with Roger Waters that most informs this sprawling, seventies-style double album, the kind of thing Todd Rundgren used to knock out before his lunch of quaaludes and fondue. Think, in terms of scope and ambition, of A Wizard, A True Star, Out of Blue, Tusk, or even Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life Of Plants”! Do you remember that scene in Almost Famous where the sister is leaving home and gives her brother a pile of albums to “set him free”? It’s that kind of record, man.
‘Trafalgar Square’ goes from ‘Us And Them’ Floyd to a dirty Glam boogie which puts the rhythm guitar from The Beatles’ ‘Revolution 1’ through a blender. There’s more Beatle action on ‘Me’ which sounds like Imagine era John Lennon, complete with Plastic Ono Band drums, covered by the ELO, as does ‘Sunset Blvd’. ‘Over The Midnight’ is the kind of thing Kraftwerk might have worked up in the Casio testing room had they grown up in California listening to The War On Drugs.
The ghost of Dennis Wilson floats over this record too, ’49 Hairflips’, which despairs at the kids who are “posting their lives” and “will never rock again” could be one of those marvellously half-baked demos that surfaced from Wilson’s “lost” Bambu album. In fact, one of the songs uncovered from those sessions was called ‘Under The Moonlight’, so I claim my five euros.
Further on, ‘Miriam Montague’ is pure Kinks whimsy, mutating into Move-style psychedelia before a lift from U2’s ‘MLK’, of all things. Lana Del Ray adds backing vocals to ‘Living With Myself’, which could pass for an eighties Fleetwood Mac outtake, although it might as well be Lana from down the road, because she doesn’t add much.
Single ‘Loving You’, complete with new age Eno associate Laraaji wordlessly banging on, mystically, in the background, heads in Peter Gabriel direction, as does ‘Hard To Get Over’; imagine ‘Biko’ redone as a song of frustrated love. Kate Bush’s barmy-but-beautiful productions are another definite signpost.
He’s not finished at all yet. ‘Hi Ho The Righteous’ updates Sweetheart Of The Rodeo before it freaks out completely towards the end, and this long weekend of a record finally comes to a close with the early-Elton-styled, piano-bothering ‘Mulholland Queen’.
Wilson doesn’t just throw in everything plus the kitchen sink, he heads down to B&Q to get a load more sinks to finish the job. It’s a full eighty minutes long, so don’t go making any plans, but this admirably ambitious effort is worth your time.