Review by Eugenia Vela.
Well, shit. Thanks, David Byrne.
Wondervisions (Luaka Bop) had been lounging around my library for a couple of weeks when, for some reason, the crazy weather we’ve been having on this side of the world made me crave something new. So I pushed play.
Wondervisions will be the kind of pivotal mark in popular culture that simply survives—survives for some unnamed, wonderful reason, the way Freaks and Geeks survived in our hearts even when it died after only 12 aired episodes. But unlike Freaks and Geeks, Delicate Steve has a future. First, because this band from New Jersey is remarkably young. Second, because if there’s anything to take away from Wondervisions is that it’s music that could last forever. Yes, it’s got a quirk that won’t appeal to everyone. But if it doesn’t appeal to you, it’s probably ‘cause there’s something wrong with you.
Wondervisions will make you smile. Bitches and skeptics will nod along and twist around, without skipping to the next track. They won’t even bother to wonder why they’re enjoying this hodgepodge-of-an-album so fucking much.
I’m sorry to sound redundant here, but the opening track, “Welcome-Begin” welcomes you warmly. “The Ballad of Speck and Pebble” envelops you with a sound so sweet and innocent that reeks of ‘60s charm and Juno-ish flair. Ironically, the title track didn’t really do it for me and “Don’t Get Stuck” made me kinda shrug and go,“Meh.” But then there’s “Attitude/Gratitude,” which has the potential for becoming the new It Love Song, like a wordless “The Way You Look Tonight” for the new generation. Trust me, if Josh Schwartz would’ve heard this circa 2004, he would’ve scooped it up, played it on The O.C. and claimed he discovered the band all on his own (well suck it, Schwartz!).
This 12-track instrumental debut isn’t easily understood. Fuck, I don’t even fully understand it. Not because it’s complicated, but because there’s layers of sound and restlessness that, even though nothing like The Who at all, somehow resonates with Ken Russell’s Tommy (case in point: “Z Expression”) with a hint of love. There’s color and haze.
Sometimes we give musicians too much credit, and I wonder if that’s the case with Delicate Steve. There’s two scenarios I’ll set down for ya: either they created Wondervisions with no intent of any meaningful whatever, just screwed around like musicians do and realized then that this could be good. Or…they’re some kind of smart-ass, witty, talented bunch who knew along what they were doing. Let’s hope it’s the latter.
The point is, listen to it. Sometimes it feels like the album could’ve done with some breathing room, and it tends to have too many ideas crammed into too little time. But so what?