Wilding‘s flights of fancy are a delightful and mesmerising distraction from our troubled times – psychedelic, jangling vignettes of everyday life delivered with a compassionate eye and a wry exposition. His album last year – ‘The Death of Foley’s Mall’ made my list of top albums released in Australia/New Zealand last year, and the first ‘side’ of his new single is the delightful ‘Losing Teeth’ from that album.
Wilding (known to friends, family and the local barista as Justin Wilding Stokes) fills his songs with whimsy – his erudite observations on his surroundings are profound and kind. He says – I’m drawn to the loneliness of old things – objects, buildings, stories, people – and the title of the song speaks for itself: a gentle look at the entropy of life and the slow decay we all face on our journey:
I was once a boy with a future bright and a happy smile of alabaster white. Oh, I’m just fed up with losing teeth
But Wiliding’s journey is not all dark: we are transported along a jingle jangle highway that bristles with energy and a psychedelic sheen: there is a fairground swirl and gentle wafting melodies. If this is the soundtrack to our inevitable decline, sign me on board.
Wilding has the ear for melody and the delicate cynicism we might recognise in the work of XTC or Jarvis Cocker/Pulp and a Beatlesesque songcraft, yet carves his own distinct niche.
The single has a ‘B’ side too as an added bonus – a new track called ‘Did You Hear That?’ – another sparkling piece of whimsy with an unsettling narrative of fear and anxiety. Gentle plonking and picking guitars accompany a fairytale style melody with a dark undertone: creating a delicious juxtaposition between the lyrics – all paranoia and nervousness – and the bright and bubbly tune that launches into the most psychedelic middle eight.
But above all, again, is Wilding’s pure songwriting craft that creates from nothing indelible melodies and sparkling, layered instrumentation mixed with intelligence and emotion. He really is a welcome beam of light when all else around is dark:
The two singles and the album ‘The Death of Foley’s Mall’ is out now through the highly comforting and eternally legendary Half a Cow Records, purveyors of good taste.
Feature Photograph: Lee Hooper