Wesley Gonzalez is a shapeshifter. A sneaky, low-key shapeshifter. From the ramshackle days of yore to the synthy stylings of 2020’s Appalling Human, the ex-Let’s Wrestle man has quietly carved out a career as one of the country’s top alt-pop weirdos.
His third solo effort, Wax Limousine, takes a further step into the unknown. The album is proudly high fidelity, full to the brim with widescreen, skew-whiff pop songs that more than flirt with the dance floor.
On opener ‘Greater Expectations’ Gonzalez comes across like a bizarro version of Hunky Dory-era Bowie, carrying the listener off into a weird and wonderful piano paradise, one filled with warped remnants of pop music’s past. From here the record takes a drastic left turn towards the funk, because, why not? ‘When I Fell For You’ is Metronomy’s drunken, slightly sleazy uncle. The track’s sparkling synths and disco guitar stabs are soaked in ’80s homage, hinting at a good time without ever revealing too much.
Gonzalez grabs this new found funkiness and runs with it. In any sane world, ‘In Confidence, I’m Scared’ would be a sure-fire sleazy summer anthem. The track throws yet another curveball, mashing up G-funk whistles, R&B twinkles and warped indie hooks. It shouldn’t work. At all. But like everything on Wax Limousine, it just sort of does.
While the groove never fully disappears, towards the end of the album the bass certainly takes a back seat. tracks like ‘Penelope Ditches Ulysses’ and ‘Grateful’ submerge the listener in sadness. The twisted funky flavour is still there, but things feel different, there’s an underlying edge beneath the jingles and the jangles.
With any other artist, This subtle darkness might hint at a possible future direction, but if Wax Limousine has taught us anything, it’s that you never know what you’re going to get with this slippery little shapeshifter. One thing is clear though: with Wesley Gonzalez around, things will never be boring.
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