Renny Wilson – Sugarglider

Before we begin: I’ve noted before that Mint awesomely sent us three albums for review, and it has taken forever to get to them because I suck at this, apparently. 🙂  Along with Jay Arner and Pick A Piper, this Renny Wilson record review comes with an apology to Mint for talking so damn long, as well as (finally!) getting me all caught up.

And now, my thoughts on Sugarglider:

One thing I love about Mint Records is their impeccable taste in artist selection. So, while not knowing anything about Renny Wilson going into this listening session, I knew I could trust that it would be worthwhile because Mint chose it. Happy days!

Album openers By And By and Who Was I? immediately give the impression of some 70s cop show scene, wailing saxophone and all. But the sound grows quickly, updating as it goes. Oh sure, this remains a highly danceable funk and soul workout, but there’s this dreamy quality to them that marks them as more modern. A great one-two track punch with a lot going on in a short time.  Could’ve It Been Me, Come Tomorrow and Feel Like A Child keep the party going by shooting us into the glossy 80s. Bound To Lose is an odd track, building slowly into a frenetic synth exercise. The album title track is a funky number, complete with (what sound like toy) drum machines. Nobody strolls along comfortably, sounding closer to the album’s opening tracks. Somehow I can picture Shaft digging it. Lady Pain brings back the dreamy elements, all space and echoes and throbbing bassline.  And finally, Mope Opera is a pretty instrumental that sounds, for its 1:11, like it was played on a toy piano, but with enough backing help to make it sound mature.

I really liked this record. There are many smart things going on musically, and each track is fully realized and satisfying. Taken together, it is a cohesive mix of elements that will appeal to a broad audience. Well done, Renny Wilson!

PS: A final thought on Mint: If these three (recently-released) records sent to our manky offices are any indication of the direction of Mint’s roster, the tide may be shifting a bit. And not in a bad way. Attitudes and tastes change, and the times they are always a-changin’ too. Sure, it’s a long way from Maow, Pansy Division, Gob, cub and the Mr. T Experience. Of course, it’s also a stretch from Carolyn Mark, Huevos Rancheros and Buttless Chaps. But if you look at the growth through New Pornographers, Immaculate Machine, Young And Sexy, Awkward Stage and Bella (among many other great acts, all), you can sort of see the pathway to these records. Still, with all their other great artists from varying styles and influences, Mint is just as likely to prove themselves willing to take on the best of things that don’t suck, never trapping themselves in a signature sound. It’s that flexibility and diversity that makes the whole she-bang work.

Mint Records, kids. Been kicking ass for years.

Thanks again, Minty folks, for these great albums!

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