Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Renny Wilson: "Sugarglider" (album review)

It's not shocking that musicians often wear their influences on their sleeves.  What is shocking is when those influences appear to include Huey Lewis and Chic, as they do on Renny Wilson's forthcoming album Sugarglider (out January 22nd).

Wilson puts his own twist on the dead (and much maligned) genre of '80s radio rock.  On tracks like "By and By" and "Nobody" he takes cliched sounds you would expect to hear during the overnight hours on a 1970's AM soft rock station and yanks them kicking and screaming into the Twenty-First Century.

The disco sounds appear often as well.  Wilson is unapologetic in his use of them on toe-tapping cuts like "Could've It Been Me?" and the insidiously infectious "Come Tomorrow".

The most impressive quality of Wilson's music is his ability to make something enjoyable out of elements that, left on their own are wretched.  On "Who Was It?", for example, he combines schmaltzy horns and Gloria Estefan-level rhythms, and by throwing a hazy blanket of dream pop over them, he manages to create a piece that is decidedly uncheesy.

The mash-up doesn't always work out.  "Feel Like a Child" is far too dance music oriented to be charming, and the "Mr Roboto"-like beat underlying "Bound To Lose" is distracting.  On the title track Wilson ends up sounding like a far more mechanical version of Stereolab.

Over time Renny Wilson's shtick can grow tiresome, but taken in small, well-placed doses he provides a palate cleanser for pretty much anything else out there.

Best tracks: "Who Was It?", "Come Tomorrow"

Track listing for Sugarglider:
  • By and By
  • Who Was it?
  • Could've It Been Me?
  • Come Tomorrow
  • Feel Like a Child
  • Bound To Lose
  • Sugarglider
  • Nobody
  • Lady Pain
  • Mope Opera

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