In our 2010 review of Innes Wilson and His Opposition’s Cardigan Summer, Madeleine noted that the album sounded like a mix of several different folk rock albums thrown together. In fact, Wilson and His Opposition gained a reputation among reviewers for living outside the genre box and playing with several different sounds.
Looks like things in 2013 are no different for the Wilson as he releases two albums in one go. Eramosa is described by Wilson as a lo-fi grunge album and it lives up to these words with distorted rapid vocals and simple chord progressions. Most of the songs clock in around the two-minute mark—rapid bursts of shifting moods.
Moving Head Moving Places was written right after Cardigan Summer and is the perfect example of Wilson’s genre-mixing formula. Pitched as a pop album, Moving Head Moving Places transitions from light indie to dance pop, hints at folk rock, and peppers things with the occasional slow tune.
“Ivy” opens Eramosa with Wilson racing through his lyrics along to a rousing beat that excites. “Cold” knocks things down with a slower, darker pace while “Garden” begins building things up again. This strange ebb and flow reflects Wilson’s decision to avoid committing to just one sound.
“Toast” almost feels like a pop punk track as Wilson puts some distance between himself and the microphone. The reduced presence on the vocals removes some of the urgency that “Ivy” carried while the rhythm remains energetic.
The lyrics “I’m not old, I’m not young” in “Mother” reflect some of the contradiction and confusion that comes from Wilson’s mixing of genres. His resistance to categories gives yet another track that sounds like it could have come off a different album—instrumentally it reminds me of White Wires.
Just as suddenly, things slow down with “August” while “Bell” taps into some “Smells Like Teen Spirit” pacing. Closer “Tough” features some strange vocals—heavy presence on the mic and an almost spoken word approach at times.
The contrast between Emarosa and Moving Head Moving Places cannot be overstated. Gone is the vocal distortion and any feeling of grunge. “I don’t bruise” isn’t cheerful lyrically, but sounds like a fun indie rock track. “Oh the autumn light” is even more light-hearted with the addition of a keyboard.
“Old man cardinal” evokes a whimsical feel with some whistling and Wilson’s vocals taking on a soothing, steady flow. “Like glass figurines” builds on the rolling pace of “Old man cardinal” and adds a harmonica, giving it a distinctly folksy sound.
“Sour are those fruit” features some distant and resonant vocals from Wilson and relies on simple drumming and strumming for a slower interlude. “A stranger without you” brings back the harmonica but channels more of an indie folk sound than a country one. The backing vocals on “The final cigarette” give the song an extra kick which, when combined with the guitar intro, gives it an anthemic indie rock feel.
“tonite little darling” mixes country with indie rock and “Which word is the world” uses the chatty nature of some country and adds it to a soft rock beat. Finally, “The Cornerstone” ends things on a whisper as Wilson croons into the mic from far away, accompanied by the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar.
There’s a lot going on in Innes Wilson’s double-release. It’s unlikely that both will appeal to the same listener, but it’s almost guaranteed something will. Wilson’s versatility is impressive, and his unabashed mixing of genres reveals confidence in his ability to move across genres without the aid of transitions.
Top Tracks: “Ivy”; “Oh the autumn light”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)