[26 June 2009]
Moving away from his previous light-hearted retro pop back towards a purer set of influences, Brooklyn’s Alan Wilkis has reinvented himself again. The six tracks on his recently released Pink and Purple EP are a slice of unadulterated electrofunk heaven, pulsing with the vivacity of a kid who’s just discovered “Theme from ‘Shaft’”. Wilkis is actually a multi-instrumentalist of considerable skill—his guitar playing, in particular, used to drop jaws. But he sits now with fellow literate-NYers Chromeo, restricting himself to a single style, and embracing it without irony for the pure fun to be had. And this is some kind of fun. From the Sesame Street twinkle of “Gotta Get You Back” to the dirtier bassline that runs under the title track, Wilkis has turned out song after song of pristine genre pieces with the quality to become new parts of the canon. So much so that you get this warm familiar feeling listening to the EP—not that you’ve heard it before, but that you’re rekindling an old friendship. Things are perhaps best illustrated on “N.I.C.E.”, a humble celebration (“I just wanna be nice to you”) of glittering synths with even a bit of Wilkis’ old-school rapping thrown in for good measure.
If there’s a twinge of disappointment associated with listening to Wilkis’ new stuff, it’s that his older style had so much potential. Then again, it’s by no means clear where this talented musician will turn next. “The Hustle”, an instrumental track he composed to soundtrack Hutchison Tire’s cycling short “It’s Your Ride” (and which is not included on this new EP), is all gorgeous Gotye-style atmosphere, and portends a to-be-looked-forward-to mastery of downbeat electronica. Either way—whether Wilkis continues mining this genre for inspiration (in which case he may become a sort of Jamie Lidell of elecrofunk), or goes off in another direction entirely—we should be confident we’ll be in for a good time.