Marlon Williams - My Boy Music Album Reviews

Marlon Williams - My Boy Music Album Reviews
With actorly affect and an Orbinsonesque croon, the New Zealand singer-songwriter uses the bright, artificial gloss of 1980s pop to evoke an uncanny, self-protective brand of masculinity.

Marlon Williams’ music is debonair and elegant, performed with the countenance of an old-school crooner. But focus too hard on the timelessness of it—the rubbery, Orbisonesque tremble to his voice, the rollick and swing of his saloon-ready band—and you might miss an occasional wink or fourth-wall break: a sly acknowledgement that there’s something ridiculous, almost, about someone from Lyttelton, New Zealand, taking on the posture of a country troubadour. Williams’ actorly affect hardly diminishes the weight of his songs, though: 2018’s Make Way For Love, his second solo record, was a dark, magnificently bruised album about a fractured relationship. What better way to deal with catastrophic heartbreak than to pretend you’re just singing the classics?

On My Boy, his third record, Williams largely steps away from country, but he’s still acting. Drawing from 1970s and ’80s soft pop, he sketches out stories of damaged and dysfunctional men: two-timers trying to evade commitment, lecherous reply guys, high-functioning cocaine addicts. Much like Alex Cameron or the Weeknd, he uses the bright, artificial gloss of ’80s pop to evoke masculinity’s uncanny, self-protective qualities—the way it crystallizes weakness and vulnerability into something impermeable and cool. And, like Cameron in particular, Williams sometimes confuses gory details for satire or genuine insight.

In its weaker moments, My Boy can feel like a collection of signifiers in search of meaning. “Soft Boys Make the Grade,” the flimsiest song here, deploys the same kind of overwritten male-manipulator parody that tends to bounce around on social media. The song’s lyrics—“Coulda wrote it all down in a letter/But here I am in your DMs”—have no weight to them, nothing to offer besides the hammy, totally unsubtle subtext: It’s funny because I’m the opposite of this. The perplexing “Morning Crystals,” seemingly written from the point of view of a drug user, counters its easy ’70s lope with manic passages (“Hey hey, I’m gonna do a spin/Hey hey, I’m gonna twist and shout”) that ostensibly signal come-ups. But like “Soft Boys Make the Grade,” the track comes to a conclusion that’s seemingly bereft of interiority: “Morning crystals are all that I see/Soon it will be too late/And morning crystals will seal my fate.”

Williams is at his best when he’s being gestural, as opposed to literal. The lovely title track ambles forward, fueled by a sun-dappled Māori strum, its lyrics giving off a paternal radiance that matches the production: “He’s all to me and more/Nothing can touch my boy.” The same warmth comes through on “Easy Does It,” a love song to a faraway friend written with gentle fondness, the kind of unassuming affection rarely put in song.

These songs, in particular, sound gorgeous: The production, handled by Williams along with Tom Healy and Mark Perkins, aka Merk, feels dazed and nostalgic, a smeary mix of Pasefika pop and indie country that’s warm and incredibly detailed. My Boy is filled with almost imperceptible production choices, such as the faint, grunting exhales in the background of “Easy Does It,” that give the album a depth and humor Make Way for Love didn’t necessarily have. Even when My Boy leaves this zone, as on the anthemic, anxious “Thinking of Nina,” a song inspired by the TV show The Americans, the production feels grounded in the same universe as the rest of the record. It’s easy to be skeptical of “going ’80s” as a concept, now that nearly every indie rocker has tried it, but Williams only indulges in full-blown synth pyrotechnics when it’s warranted. Ultimately, that’s what saves My Boy: Even when his lyrics don’t land, Williams’ musical intuition is hard to beat.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Marlon Williams - My Boy Music Album Reviews Marlon Williams - My Boy Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 16, 2022 Rating: 5


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