Wednesday, May 24, 2006

World Party: Dumbing Up (Seaview)
release: May 2, 2006 (originally issued in 2000)
styles: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
similar: Bob Dylan with violins, The Verve's Urban Hymns
rating: ***

There's more history to the overlooked World Party than we thought. In fact, the story of band leader Karl Wallinger makes for an obvious candidate for Behind the Music. He was for a short time a member of Celtic rock band the Waterboys as well as involved in an early incarnation of the Alarm. He also helped record Sinead O'Connor's Lion and the Cobra. But after the original release of Dumbing Up, Wallinger had an aneurysm and couldn't speak, while four years ago his former band members and Robbie Williams allegedly stole a World Party song and made it a hit for Williams. Now that Wallinger has gained control of the WP catalog and he's fully functional, all the records are being re-issued for the people that didn't hear "Ship of Fools" and "Way Down Now" on alternative rock radio in the early '90s. Dumbing Up doesn't sound so much like a band as it does a solo work from Wallinger. The record is sparse, with acoustic guitar and light strings framing the backdrop for the distinctive vocals. And while many of these songs go on for a couple more minutes than necessary, the lyrics and arrangements are too wise-sounding to turn off. Except for the out-of-place, soul-infused "Here Comes the Future". -Kenyon

note: World Party is playing on Long Island May 29 (it's way out east at the Stephen Talkhouse, but still, that's Long Island)

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