Andrew WK Close Calls With Brick Walls / Mother of Mankind Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Two hours of predominantly upbeat outpourings from the white-shirted rocker.

Adam Kennedy 2010

Anyone searching for a definition of too much of a good thing, welcome back party-starting human adrenaline shot Andrew WK. Collating ‘lost’ third album Close Calls With Brick Walls, previously only available in the Far East, with rare/unreleased disc Mother of Mankind, this 39-track double set is nothing if not daunting.

The bizarre resurfacing furore over whether Andrew WK actually is Andrew WK (click to Wikipedia for more information) has fired interest in the California-born provocateur once again, after comparatively lean years that followed infectiously enthusiastic 2001 debut I Get Wet. The timing parallels something of a musical identity crisis, too, in the wake of last year’s improvised piano set 55 Cadillac, a record that proved there was more to WK than a furiously rocking white tee-clad manchild.

Close Calls… promises much within opener I Came For You, a curiously heartfelt semi-power ballad showcasing an impassioned, surprisingly textured howl. Close Calls With Bal Harbour is similarly impressive, a whacked intergalactic daytrip that wouldn’t feel especially out of place on the latest Liars album, Sisterworld.

After such a promising start, it’s back to business as usual on Not Going To Bed, though, bombastic production necessitating a dive for the volume knob as he ominously threatens to forego shuteye with bluster even Meat Loaf would baulk at. I Want To See You Go Wild ups the unreconstructed party meter, its cringeworthy lyrical nadir arriving when WK advises us “Sometimes you need to go crazy / And other times you need to go crazier”.

Don’t Call Me Andy vaporises notions that just maybe this is a gonzo post-modern in-joke so deftly observed it’s invisible to the naked eye, meanwhile, educating listeners on trivial concerns of not abridging WK’s forename.

Mother of Mankind is a more intriguing beast for both fans and newcomers, a real stylistic hotchpotch, yet concealing the odd moment of real head-turning interest, not least We Got a Groove’s peculiar cod-reggae.

The relief is temporary, however: after nigh on two hours of predominantly upbeat outpourings you’ll want to glue WK’s face to the nearest television broadcasting rolling news, just to remind him life isn’t entirely unrelenting fingers-in-ears good times.

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