People who can make you smile or genuinely laugh out until you cry aren’t many in this world unless you’re the kind of person easily amused by just about anything. In fact, there’s hardly anyone more important to add to your circle of friends than someone who can make you laugh when things are going bad. It’s strange to consider how much a smile costs these days.
Wonderfun, on this self-titled album, wants to do nothing more than to make you forget your troubles, have you believe in the potential for the world to be a wonderful place and not allow you to sink into the depressing murkiness of the general state of the world. It’s a pretty noble reason to make music, actually.
Like any would-be revolutionary, there’s a manifesto to go along with the brave insurgency of good times. The album opener, “Felony of Fun” is a power-pop love song in which the songwriter’s object of desire is described as a kind of Venus de Milo of good times and charm, the musician’s perfect match.
“Little Boy” rings out like a Billy Joel piano ballad. The song offers a rare glimpse at a more serious topic. The innocence of youth, suggested not merely by the words but also by the pretty melodies, is under threat unless the characters of the song do something about it and refuse to grow up.
And, indeed, this is the kind of album that a child might wish they could one day make. First, they would need to learn a lot of tricks related to orchestration, melody construction and lyrics. Songs like “My Camera,” “Me and My Things” or “The Swedish King” suggest that the grown-up version of the kid who once dreamed took the time to acquire that knowledge.
It all comes in handy. On “Wonderboy,” the 50s-styled chord progression is followed by enthusiastic vocals entirely lacking cynicism and reminding us of a time when The Beach Boys’ vision of the world was enough to make listeners yearn for the Sun and waves being talked about in song.
But are there clouds on the horizon? If so, in Wonderfunland, they can easily and hastily be blown away. The album’s closer, a song that shares its name with that of the album and of the artist, is a piano ballad about all the people who’ve turned their back on this kind of bliss. They can do as they wish, but there’s no reason for anyone else to fall in line. Not with all the fun that music and dreaming can still make you feel.
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