Andrew Weatherall: A Pox on the Pioneers
The squishy, skipping beat and heathery electronic pulsation that introduces Andrew Weatherall's debut solo album is the sort lissome electronic texture you'd expect from a DJ/producer from the acid-house-y Sabres of Paradise and, more recently, the electro duo Two Lone Swordsmen. And the catchy melody pushing "Fail We May, Sail We Must," A Pox on the Pioneers' lead-off track, along at its buttery clip is exactly the sort of subtly tuned pop sensibility you'd expect from a producer/remixer of artists such as the Happy Mondays, Primal Scream (1991's Screamadelica, no less), New Order, Björk, the Orb, Fuck Buttons, and many others. What's surprising is how instantly dated the combination feels, as if a dispatch from the late 1980s/early '90s when blends of dance-floor beats and rock-band song structures was a novel, and not always successful, idea.
That's not a knock against Pox, but it does lend the album a nostalgic patina. Perhaps it's fitting: Weatherall has straddled dance and pop for so long that his career has shot the rapids of its fits and starts, and Pox cuts a higgledy-piggledy path through a DJ's omnivorous crates and a songsmith's tuneful ear. Fuzzy keyboard bass lines and a doo-wop-y vocal loop help "Miss Rule" trot at a sock-hop pace, while the buried electro squiggles massaged into a trebly, sustained guitar in "Liar With Wings" might as well be a Love and Rockets B-side. More instantly engaging are the less hybrid outings, such as the deep-space bass that flattens "All the Little Things" into an orbiting house-head-trip and the strutting keyboards that give "Walk of Shame" the give-a-shit shine of mirrorized shades. If it's all a tad underwhelming, it's never outright dire, but you expect a little more pizzazz from an artist with so much under his hood.