Willie’s music is timeless. In it you’ll hear things from every rockin’ decade known, but it doesn’t stink of any them profoundly. This is the Willie way, not unlike the way you can hear those darn Beatles and not think of just ’60s. If the song is no good it’s simply not there, which means that the songwriting caliber throughout is quite magnificent, and the production (by John Strawberry Fields) isn’t predictable or overbearing, always varied, fun and appropriate. And the Beatles reference is not done so lightly, nor the comparisons I’m about to make to the smartness and youthful pop of XTC’s Andy Partridge (maybe even a really gutsy Martin Newell for those who know), the melodic catchiness of the Bears’ era Adrian Belew, or a few Jellyfish donuts.
Willie’s voice is one of those immediately likable old friend’s voices, one that reminds you of some others that you rack your brains trying to place but he’s beat you to it — by the time you can’t figure it out he’s claimed it all his own.
His approach seems to be to take an ordinary situation and make an extraordinary song out of it. It’s their crazy infectiousness that I can’t get over. I was hooked on his previous She for months and still hold a very warm place for it, not being totally over that one yet.
Maybe it’s the smiling crunch of the electric guitars or the sweet strumming of the acoustics, maybe his crystal-gruff voice or the fun little production tricks, or dozens of other things I don’t want to spoil by over-identifying or explaining.
This time around it appears Willie has left most of the instrumentation and playing to the producer, in that context named StrawB, so there is a distinctly different arrangement feel this time around, but Willie’s signature pop stands out more, even if he is happily singing about some of the darker aspects of daily life. Seems he is just plain nonplussed about the ability of these things to dampen our spirits, which translates well musically.
Relentlessly delicious, I can’t leave turbosherbet alone. Hi-powered and tangy with a kick, I’m going back to the bowl for another helping. October Records, 6401 Wayzata Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN 55426