Willie J Healey – ‘Twin Heavy’ review: the lusty drama of Pulp meets ‘70s psych decadence

Out of a major-label setting Healey finds freedom and success with his flamboyant second album

By following up his beautiful, meandering debut album ‘People And Their Dogs’ with the Elliot Smith-inspired melancholy of the ‘Kill 666’ EP, Willie J Healey established himself as a man on the move. For him, a road once-trodden isn’t worth revisiting.

So where does album two take him, then? Well, he gets a bit weird. From the sunny-day welcome of ‘Fashun’ to the stuttering lovelorn slow-dance of ‘Caroline Needs’, ‘Twin Heavy’ sees Healey burn his acoustic guitar and create a record of ‘70s psychedelic decadence.

Inspired by his dealings with a major label for album one, that jaunty opener of ‘Fashun’ pokes fun at the hype-y promise of superstardom. Dripping in sarcasm and dialing up the theatrics, Healey sings “‘you’re gonna be a big star, honey. A real household name,” with a knowing wink.

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The real highlight is ‘Songs For Joanna’, where the Oxfordshire hero recreates the lusty drama of Pulp. Soundtracking a love web, it touches on sexuality (“Ben loves Janey, swears he’s a straight”) and encourages youthful want (“Coming of age, Got blood in your veins. Man, don’t you fight it”) with giddy excitement. That spirit of following your heart, no matter where it takes you, drives ‘Twin Heavy’ forward.

From the sickly sweet declaration of love on ‘For You’ through the baroque-pop influenced ‘Thousand Reasons’, ‘Twin Heavy’ is an eccentric album that never shies away from left turns. The title track echoes David Bowie’s slow-burning epic ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Why You Gotta Do It’ takes notes from The Rolling Stones before the scrappy rock n’ roll of ‘Heavy Traffic’ gets personalm “I’m twenty-two and still confused…I’ve been alone but I never felt lonely,” he wings. For all the beauty of ‘Twin Heavy’, there’s plenty of grit just below the surface.

‘Condo’ is the black sheep on an album of outsider anthems. A dark, brooding track that takes Slash’s guitar solo from Guns N’ Roses’ ‘November Rain’ and hands it over to The Phantom of The Opera, it sees Healey desperate and in love. No matter how many times his heart breaks, across this record he gets right back up again. An album that’s ready to fall head over heels at a moment’s notice. It’s hard not to get caught up in his absolute lust for life.

Details

  • Release date: August 7
  • Record label: Yala!
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