Music

Mr. Wright: Hello Is Anyone Out There

Patrick Schabe

Mr. Wright

Hello Is Anyone Out There

Label: Le Grand Magistery
US Release Date: 2001-07-31
Amazon
iTunes

Another release from Le Grand Magistery in the cool, stylistically abundant pop vein. Another release from Kevin Wright, whose Mr. Wright has put out two previous albums of this same sound. On that note, it might be difficult to find anything else to say about the album.

But that would be cop out on my part. There's really a lush, thick quality to the quiet music here that is worthy of attention and some verbiage. Acoustic lounge electronica. Chamber pop. Post-New Romantic, goth tinged, subdued Nick Cave meets Nick Drake. It's simply difficult to find the right words. This is due in part to the minimalist qualities that permeate this album. They are in direct contradiction to the soupy blends of sounds that work their way beneath the surface of these tracks, emerging only briefly for the necessary hook, and then diving back down once more to create the underlying ambience. I hate to rule by comparison, but the twee darlings Belle and Sebastian come to mind a bit while listening to this disc. However, although I doubt B&S have ever been described as being particularly upbeat, this is like Belle and Sebastian on a heavy dose of laudanum.

This dirge-like quality has less to do with the music, which at moments ("Coming Home") has nearly cheerful qualities, than it does with Wright's voice. Not only does Wright almost exclusively adopt long, deep, drawn-out notes but he sings at an interminable pacing that is infuriating at times. Imagine Roger Waters singing the opening to "Us and Them" for an entire album's worth of songs. Take "Ocean Boulevard" for example: "Many years from / (beat, beat, beat, beat) / This time we live in / (beat, beat, beat, beat) . . ." At times you just want to yell, "Spit it out, you bastard!" Which is a shame, because Wright's voice is enticing enough in its gothy, dramatic depths that it could be put to some good use. But having to wait a full measure between each line of a verse or a chorus just makes the otherwise passable lyrics seem like torture. We won't even discuss the painful moments that his voice croaks like a pubescent male on "Missing You Still" and "Voyage".

As thematic elements go, the songs on this album fit the title. Wistful, lonely, abandoned emotions drip from each track. Ocean imagery is returned to enough times to make an emo band blush, but there's nothing here to indicate that this is some kind of concept album. There's no sense of camp or high drama like you might get out Morrissey. Kevin Wright is simply maudlin, and that's what he sings about.

After all that, it might seem like I don't like this album. In fact, I don't really want to. But there's something insanely compelling about the musical compositions. As stated earlier, there's the occasional burst of instrumentation to complete some killer hooks, particularly the brief electric piano flourish in "Ocean Boulevard". But there are also the hushed repetitions. A particular chord progression is played with a looping insistence. A certain refrain drones on an on. A guitar is plucked at one unwavering note per beat for an entire song's length. A drum fills the low end with an unchanging echo. Individually, these things would be completely irritating, but Wright actually builds these songs, and the somnambulistic pacing actually allows each element to be appreciated as part of a composition. On the one hand, these songs quickly lose your direct attention, but as soon as your mind wanders, a particular element changes or surfaces just enough to draw your notice and reel you back in.

Although I don't have a particular problem with Wright's ability as a writer of lyrics, the overwhelming strength of the music paired with the painful dullness of the singing makes the album something difficult to pick up with anticipation. I'd hate to suggest that Wright abandon the microphone for a purely instrumental direction, but at the very least he should think about making Mr. Wright a collaborative effort and hiring himself a singer. There's a lot to marvel at in Hello Is Anyone Out There, but it's tempered by how much there is to cringe at as well.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.