Andrew W.K.
The Wolf
Island Records
2003
B



i have massive problems writing about Andrew W.K.’s music. I think this is because there are two aspects of that music, and trying to shoe-horn them both in isn’t working. It’s like this: on the one hand, Andrew W.K. represents a shining belief in the nobility and beauty and possibility inherent in human beings and in the power of music, and of the joy of living. On the other hand, he makes music that sounds like Slayer doing Abba covers.

That latter is not a bad thing; his first record was a perfectly formed, tightly wound spitball of joy that for me is a classic 10.0 album, because it does exactly what it sets out to do and then ends. It balances being as loud and heavy and as BIG as possible with also cramming every spare note with as much melodic power as it can hold, and it is absolutely essential for lovers of metal, rock or pop music.

But the result is that people don’t take him seriously. I didn’t until I talked to him. He really is being serious about everything he sings about, his curious mix of Stoicism, hedonism and ‘embrace every moment and every person’ sentiment.

And that sincerity is the problem, because now I want to take him seriously. I personally think that at times W.K. says important and valuable and beautiful things about people and the way we live and the way we could live, but he throws in things like “Make Sex” or “Tear It Up”, which as a fan of his music I like, but which contributes to other people’s instinctive urge to dismiss him as a joke.

And really, why should I care? Even as a joke you can appreciate his pop sense, which makes these songs great to drive to, or sing in the shower, or just play really loud anywhere. But there’s something about the deeper sentiment that demands to be shared, something Andrew W.K.’s live shows have borne out.

This second album isn’t nearly as perfect as the first, simply because W.K. (who still plays every instrument here) has changed his focus from making the hugest, catchiest music he can to focusing on the sentiment more, which means more mid-tempo songs. Ultimately your reaction to the first album will define your reaction here. I can foresee a long cult career for Andrew W.K., devoted acolytes swearing he is the best thing ever, and everybody else ignoring him because they don’t know how to do anything else.

On the back of the CD booklet there is a picture of Andrew sitting at his keyboard, turning back to face the camera, a big grin on his face, giving us the thumbs-up. It looks hokey, but also sincere and a little heartwarming. Which is exactly what this album sounds like.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2003-09-25
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