Having released their debut last year, which led to a Maida Vale session for BBC 6 Music Dj Steve Lamacq and then a tour supporting The Flaming Lips we were pleasantly shocked when murmurs of new releases started cropping up at the end of the last year. Soon we were graced with single Lonely Type late in 2018 before Are You Ok? And Self Help dropped ahead of the album released on June 14th.
Are You OK? Like its predecessor Something Left Behind is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist William Southward and his musical tinkering and exploration in his shed. To fill out his multi-instrumental talents he has enlisted friends Madeline Ryan, Issac Phillips and Phoebe Phillips to dapple their sparkle on his creations. From the very outset of opening track Are You Ok? You’re set into the world that William wanted to create with his sophomore effort. Are You Ok? Starts with very deliberate simplistic electronic drums, with states that “Most of this album was written around an old Linn Drum Computer that I managed to get my hands on last year. I had always really liked the distinct 80’s sound of the Linn Drum, made famous by the likes of Prince, Gary Numan, and Peter Gabriel, and it was a fun and unique process writing songs around the beats I programmed in.”
“Wasuemono’s Are You Ok? sounds like it’s cover musically; a candyfloss land of unicorns are rainbows. That said lyrically Are You Ok? follows in the current trend of talking about mental health but taking on a metaphorical route.”
To follow opening track Are You Ok? is the albums first single Lonely Type, a track hooked around a deliberate plucked bassline but continues the washed out dreamlike production styling. Wasuemono’s Are You Ok? sounds like it’s album artwork musically; a candyfloss land of unicorns are rainbows. That said lyrically Are You Ok? follows in the current trend of talking about mental health but taking on a metaphorical route. William Southward explained that “Are You OK? seemed a fitting title. I liked the idea of sugar coating the ‘Are You OK?’ slogan, which is something we can all be guilty of doing when portraying our lives, whether that’s online or to each other in person. Underneath all this though, is the more serious question that I think we should be asking each other and ourselves; Are You OK? Let’s talk…”
Don’t Play With Ghosts (For Olive) see Southward using the most stripped back production on the album with it’s verses based on its acoustic guitar line. Typical for Are You Ok? the choruses fill out to the candy-floss land whilst the acoustic line remains prominent. The latter ‘ghosts’ appear to present themselves in musically chalkboard nail-like violin.
“Wasuremono are never designed to be stadium rock but Self Help has a chorus that would impress the stereotypical tattooed biker Def Leppard fan!”
Never Felt This Way Before and final single Self Help return to the albums main focus of crisp, top end eq’d bass playing and the Linn Drum. Self Help is an obvious single choice with its anthemic and life affirming lyrics backed in a singalong style. Self Help is a clear live favourite with hand clapped drum beat; Wasuremono are never designed to be stadium rock but Self Help has a chorus that would impress the stereotypical tattooed biker Def Leppard fan!
“[With unrivalled production] it would be easy to see Are You Ok? appear on the Mercury Music Award shortlisting.”
One Last Trip is Southward at his finest as a producer, listening to each element the track is simple, but often a masterpiece is knowing as much what not include as to include. Finishing with a repeated sampled scream and ‘normal’ frantic drums, it would be easy to see Are You Ok? appear on the Mercury Music Award shortlisting.
“Are You Ok? Is an oxymoronic album, lyrically channelling mental health whilst it’s instrumentation is sugar-coating, as far from awkward as this description sounds.”
Southward’s dream like state lifts towards the later parts of the album but it’s Linn Drum remains on A Lesson To Learn, New York and Hail Ra! Penultimate track Nothing Is Easy has the fun-loving indie of The Go Team channeled whilst it’s title leaves the listener aware that it’s lyrics aren’t ‘as easy’. Are You Ok? s an oxymoronic album, lyrically channeling mental health whilst it’s instrumentation is sugar-coating, as far from awkward as this description sounds.