Wolfgang The Wicked Truth About Loving a Man

[Hypnote; 2007]

Styles: synth-pop, retro-electro
Others: Pet Shop Boys, Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Gil Mantera’s Party Dream

I’m a listener who tries to be very attentive to subtle shadings of the common elements in electronic music: programmed drums, synth melodies, transmogrified samples. I get excited about a smart use of echo on a snare hit. I use words like “coy” and “clever” to describe phasers. m/ Ricardo Villalobos m/ ‘n’ all that.

So, curiously, Wolfgang pleases me. His approach to electro is decades distant from the fastidious sequencing and sample-mining of today’s laptoppers. He’s scrounged up some cheap synths and a vocoder from the '80s and done little to nothing to alter the preset voicings. And it’s actually for the better. The Wicked Truth About Loving a Man is a concept album consisting of love songs from a pop-savvy robot to the human who saves him from a dumpster. So the lyrics in every single song are sung through the same vocoder. This is important: to fully appreciate the silly/serious pathos of the album, you have to accept that this is not a musician singing through a vocoder -- this is the voice of the robot! He is in love! He is the “master of the music”! You are “a slave to his impulses”! Can you hear it?

According to the story in the press kit, this robot’s love is ultimately unrequited, and that’s a shame -- Wolfgang’s talent goes beyond mere kitschy revivalism. Tunes like “Master of the Music,” “No Coincidence,” and “Battery” gyrate and warble with enough verve and melody to fit nicely next to “Blue Monday” or even LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great.” It’s when the lovesick robot turns sentimental that the record sags. An atmospheric track like “Illumination” may be present to round out the narrative, but without counterparts earlier in the album, it seems more like filler than a germane coda. If Wolfgang’s beloved is anything like this reviewer, he was charmed by the robot’s capacity to jack within fluorescent, shimmering textures, but he was a little bored after awhile with the sappy bits. The Wicked Truth is a campy, heartfelt joke worth being in on. Unfortunately, the story spins a good while after the punchline has come and gone.

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