Moshi Moshi Records (label)
12 June 2020 (released)
12 June 2020
Former Let’s Wrestle frontman Wesley Gonzalez follows up, no, grapples *ahem* with second solo product ‘Appalling Human’ another offering of cheeringly cynical, both eyes-half-cocked, brow-arched ode-codes and self-help ill-osophies. This collection is his ‘post-therapy’ (a)musings - his breakdown is now a remade-up - that sees him shed his dead skin, nail his ghosts to history’s coffin, his past is passé as he emerges into a new dawn, day and destiny.
Imagine this: What if ex-Beatle John Lennon had instead of being brutally slain in 1980 had instead walked away with a bullet graze, a near-miss that allowed the sarky Scouser to capitalise on that evening’s events and signpost a new decade for him and popular culture. And who knows, Mark Chapman might finally have finished reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye’.
Free your mind games: As the history books show, earlier that night Lennon had played skronking, screeching guitar on Yoko Ono’s still contemporary single ’Walking on broken glass’ and in a counterfactual concept (such as this) the weird and warped sounds of that song with its dissonant dance-flaw disco suggest a what could’ve, might’ve and should’ve been for the once Fab man. Here, the synths all sound a bit awry, slightly off-key which when augmented by jerky-perky beat(le)ings *coughs* and mangled noir-funk bass guitars (in the vein of Arthur Russell or John Maus) creates a resonant eminence for these ‘strange days, indeed’.
Doubly fantastical: Anyway, to cut a long story short, this album from Wesley Gonzalez is a glimpse into that conceit. Displaying similar anxieties (‘crippled inside’ without being needy and cloying) Gonzalez is far too knowing and aware to be oh so literal, no, his words, his phrasing, his tonal timbre, his patient pacing, phrasing and pausing between enunciation, even his song titles (‘Wind your neck in’, ‘Did you get what you paid for?’, ‘Friend at first’) are a masterclass in saying something and everything yet really giving nothing away.
On the diptych of ‘Fault of the family’ (‘and sorry is just a word … haven’t you heard?’) and ‘Fault in your design’ (‘a difficult man, a man who was truly hard to love, but, in a way I was cut from the same cloth’) he cryptically assigns the blame to nature and/or nurture. It’s not me, it’s all of you. Or is it all of me?
Oh, and like the aforementioned Lennon he’s funnily scabrous too. He picks his targets, steadies the crosshairs, takes aim and lets it all flood out.
Zealous Guy: On the emotionally upfront ‘Come through and see me’ he dismisses A.N. Other with ‘You ain’t as smart as YOU think, son … Get Back’* the disdain is clear for all to feel, who, what and where the ire is aimed at is in the ears of the listener. I’m placing all me chips on some head-shrink who attempted to rewire patient Gonzalez.
Now do you sleep: Another touchstone (thematically and schematically) on this album is Tears for Fears, whose ‘Songs from the Big Chair’ from 1985 also dealt with the frailties of the (funda)mental faculties to resounding effect.
Wesley Gonzalez wants you to know that he’s alright and this is his way of telling you.
*Yes, but, that’s a Paul Macca composition.