- Willverine, Who Can Wave Me to the Way Out
For Will Andrews, aka Willverine, less is more. On the electronic pop artist's new album, Who Can Wave Me to the Way Out, he uses negative space as a focal point. Throughout the LP's eight tracks, he frequently pulls a sonic drain plug. Only the chunkiest bass and synth lines survive the evacuation of sound, drawing attention to the songs' foundational elements.
Sparseness and economy are calling cards for the Colchester-based singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Throughout the string of singles and short LPs Andrews has released over the last six years, his humid, tripped-out grooves center his judicious approach to songwriting and production.
But Who Can Wave Me to the Way Out breaks new ground. Namely, Andrews steps back almost entirely from vocals. He's done this before, tapping local stars such as Francesca Blanchard and Mark Daly. Another is Sam DuPont, formerly of fraternal folk duo the DuPont Brothers and currently recording as Blackmer. He takes the lead throughout the new effort. But his partnership with Andrews runs much deeper.
When I serendipitously bumped into DuPont at a diner last week, he echoed sentiments that Andrews had sent by email. Both were working through intense personal turmoil while they wrote and recorded the album. They found solace and companionship through shared creation at a time when they desperately needed it. Andrews presented DuPont with instrumental blank canvases, sometimes with melodies in mind, sometimes without.
As indicated by its title, Who Can Wave Me to the Way Out is about feeling stuck in the worst moments of your life. Dazzling opener "I Was Lonely" encases Andrews' and DuPont's ennui and frustration in trumpet-splashed bump-and-grind beats.
Somnambulist slow jam "No More Staying Up Late" pits firecracker beats against an undulating bass line, with DuPont's airy vocals sandwiched between them. He's chasing his tail, listing off everything he doesn't want and can no longer stomach. He'll have no more of "staying up late ... playing those games ... running in circles" or "trying to break things just to feel alright."
Collectively, the songs brim with futuristic composition inlaid with compelling sadness. "Visible Attitude" pairs hyperactive video game synth with barbiturate beats. "No More We," a gut-punch breakup song, soothes itself with various electronic hums and buzzes. Only the shuffling drums on "Amy Winehouse" have a retro quality, recalling the Dap-Kings' work on the titular singer's Back to Black. But the tune's dilating synths and DuPont's chorused vocals sound like they're beamed through a wormhole.
Maybe Andrews' fascination with empty space echoes the album's themes of loneliness and isolation. Maybe that's always been what drives him. And DuPont, with his own baggage in the mix, is the perfect companion for a journey into the unknown.
Who Can Wave Me to the Way Out is available on all major streaming platforms.