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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Alan Wilkis: Babies Dream Big (2008)

Alan Wilkis’s new record Babies Dream Big is a fun cheesy record that isn’t afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve. Although I must say upfront that the album cover is horrendous, don’t let it deter you from the goodness inside.

First and foremost Wilkis appeals greatly to my love of the falsetto and on the first few tracks like “I’m Famous” and “Milk And Cookies” he clearly puts his all into his self-described “white-boy soul.” It’s in this latter track that Wilkis gets particularly funky with a marching rhythm complete with processed handclaps (a must of course). He mixes things up with a little renaissance fair-esque keyboard breakdown that goes by all too quickly.

Lyrically, Babies Dream Big leaves me desiring a bit more than just simple romantic clichés such as, “I wanna know/ Why you caused me this pain/Feels like I’m drowning/The memories are staid,” on “I Wanna Know.” However Wilkis makes up for this lyrical shortage in pure unrequited sincerity and vocal dexterity.

Props to Wilkis for making a song that has a rap section featuring Neptune, God of the Sea. This song, “In My Dreams,” is my favorite track on Babies Dream Big. Starting with a jittery 8-bit beat and Wilkis half-rapping/half singing, the song transforms into a funkadelic version of “Octopus’s Garden” with the Neptune rap that is so hilarious and wonderful.

“Girls On Bikes” probably epitomizes Alan Wilkis perfectly. Slithering in and out of various styles from the hard rocking intro and bridges to the sweet melodic pop of the verses and chorus that has Wilkis declaring (with vocoder-laden background vocals singing along), “If I only I could ride a bicycle/I would ride along with them/ It would be beautiful.” Then out of nowhere the song builds into an epic prog-rock breakdown (breakout?) before rocketing back to the sweet chorus and finally Wilkis whisks us out on a chugging rock outro. It is quite an exhilarating experience.

Even with my slight misgivings towards Wilkis’s lyrical ability, don’t think that could deter you from finding this record enjoyable. His sincerity and his ability to make us on smile Babies Dream Big is infectious and life-affirming. It’ll make you want to dance too.

Alan Wilkis-"In My Dreams"

Alan Wilkis on Myspace!

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