Joe Wheldon’s, second single is rather impressively three combined opportunities to present his song writing maturity, to aurally experiment and a chance to proudly cement his new electric sound. For the wise in the music business, “difficult second album syndrome,” is written in accepted folklore. Nevertheless, our Joe is clearly not monkeying around or willing to be hindered by such urbane myths and you can quote me on that…
The atmospheric movie excerpt quoted at the start of the song is accompanied with a breaking background storm. For those with an appreciation of pathetic fallacy, you will know that a storm indicates so much in our art: normally for very dark reasons. Clearly, as with Time is a Teacher (his first single), sweet melancholia is still colouring his work.
Wheldon’s current work is enhanced by the harsher sound of his electric guitar – Robert Zimmerman was berated for swapping his acoustic for an electric guitar– I have a feeling that our “Poundland Bob” will be embraced for his fuzzy wall of sound. The track would not appear out of place on a Peaky Blinders soundtrack or a modern day Spaghetti Western, such is its brooding quality. And what of the snappy percussion adding a punchy rhythm – like a baleful guard bouncing his baton along the bars – linked directly to our collective tapping foot.
We have learnt JW is not one to put his foot in his mouth. His lyrics are clearly an intense preoccupation for him and the succinct and direct message is never lost in a polysyllabic, rambling, complex melange of verbosity (I know, I know…). Wheldon articulates, as regards the human condition – that “we are all to blame” – and he is not afraid to add his thoughts on our broken society. After all, we are entirely the product of society, even if Thatcher proclaimed: “there is no such thing as society.” However, JW concedes reassuringly we are indeed: “all the same.” Or, as the scientist Adam Rutherford rather poetically points out: “…we are all mongrels enriched by the bloods of multitudes.” Although, on a sliding spectrum of humanity, some are good and some are bad…
It would of course be insane to state that Wheldon’s sound will not morph, mutate and manifest itself into another version of himself. Think of the Clash, think of Big Audio Dynamite and think of Dreadzone, who are musical magpies that insisted or insist on plucking the shiny and the dull matt jewels from the treasure trove of culture. And much like our wise beyond his year’s singer-songwriter all of these bands know how to appropriate a sound bite.
The track’s carefully selected quotes, from an early horror film, add a dramatic sub-plot to the track and like Dr. Frankenstein, we hope that our Joe has a monster on his hands with his latest musical experiment. Not least, as it would be a fitting tribute for his beloved Uncle, who helped create a sensitive and reflective musician.
By: Nicholas David Burford