The new Bonnie “Prince” Billy album “Wolfroy goes to town” is a spare and haunting piece – 10 tracks only of sombre alt-country which will not be seen as a departure by fans of his work. But novelty is now what you expect from Will Oldham who has been ploughing his distinctive furrow for 15 plus albums now under various different guises.
Opening track “No Match” sets the introspective tone for the rest of the record – beautiful harmonies underlie the repeated “No Match” refrain of the title, juxtaposing opposing statements like, “I’m no match for those who love the lord and they are no match for me” and “You can be a match for me I’ll be a match for you.”
Profound stuff; although I can’t unravel the meaning it’s beautiful all the same. The song ends on a hopeful note;
“Well, age may be a match for you but its no match for me”
The pattern is set by this first song – obtuse lyrics – which might repay repeated listening, and lovely singing, in particular by Angel Olsen who intones, with Oldham, on “New Tibet”
“As boys we fucked each other, as men we lie and smile”
A bird motif emerges in this song;
“Birds fight, birds hate”
And, crops up again later; “Soiled doves are my birds”….. And, in the download only single “Quail and Dumplings”; “Fuck birds in bushes!” he implores us….
As a whole the album is slow paced and introvert, but Oldham lets rip a little (handclaps!!) on the single, instrumentally more complex and dramatic.
“Black Captain” is a lament for lost love and a touching high point of the album, lyrically less oblique, haunting and beautiful.
This is a tender, touching collection of songs; a wonderful record. The best since “I see a darkness” which was the first under the “Bonnie Prince Billy” name, back in 1999.
Bonnie Prince Billy – Wolfroy Goes To Town tracklist:
1. No Match
2. New Whaling
3. Time To Be Clear
4. New Tibet
5. Black Captain
7. There Will Be Spring
8. Quail And Dumplings
9. We Are Unhappy
10. Night Noises
Wolfroy goes to town by Bonnie Prince Billy is released on Domino Records.