After a long hiatus, Karl Wallinger will be re-starting his World Party with the American release of Dumbing Up On May 2, (Canadian release is scheduled for May 16.) a feat that would have seemed impossible not too long ago. Four years ago, other members of his band recorded and released his song, “She’s the One” which lead to him terminating his record deal with Chrysalis. His friend and manager, Steve Fargnoli, passed away later that same year, and if that wasn’t enough, Wallinger also suffered an aneurysm.
After this much tragedy, no one would blame Wallinger if he just gave up. Instead he fought and won back the rights to his entire catalogue from EMI Marketing. With the help of Arma Andon, who not only offered to manage him but partnered with him, he formed a new label, Seaview Records, which is the home to this remastered and repackaged release of Dumbing Up. A form of this CD had a partial release in the United Kingdom before Wallinger fell ill.
One might also imagine after having faced such misfortune, the resulting album would be bitter or angry. It is neither; instead it’s a beautiful mixture of soft music and edgy lyrics. That’s not to say there aren’t undertones of his pain and hardship but it is delivered with warmth and reflection. The songs are skillfully produced, the track all flow systematically one to the other and there isn’t a single bad track or song that feels as though it doesn’t fit with the rest.
Wallinger’s list of influences includes the Beatles, Dylan, The Beach Boys, and Prince. The resulting release falls somewhere in the middle of the extremes and draws from the numerous genres. There are rich harmonies, cryptic and passionate lyrics, and music with messages. His talents as a musician and producer are evident; the sound is complex, layered, and polished.
A good example of this blend is “High Love.” It is soft, rich, and uplifting musically; the lyrics are reflective and deeper then what you may hear on a first listen. With each repeated listen I hear something a little differently and alter my interpretation of what the underlying meaning is. The song has grown to become one of my favorites.
“You’re a Hurricane, I’m a Caravan” uses a series of cryptic comparative metaphors to make its point. This track is the most reminiscent of Dylan and is very open to listener interpretation.
The first single, “What Does it Mean Now?” debuted at #25 on R&R and continues to climb the charts. As most of the album, it’s a soft rolling pop tune. It’s an intricate melody layered and weaved for a deep yet flawless sound but lyrically simple with a hook chorus.
As a bonus, a limited number of the Dumbing Up will contain a special edition DVD. It will also be available through Itunes. World Party is also in the midst of the first tour in more then ten years. Upcoming dates can be found on the artists website.