Album Review: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang – ‘The Wonder Show Of The World’ (Domino)

There's a sense here that Oldham’s going round in decreasing circles

Seventeen years and umpteen albums in, Will Oldham’s made more of a mainstream name for himself through Hot Chip remixes and Kanye West video appearances than any of his myriad guises have managed. Crossover remains elusive, then, but last year’s ‘Beware’ offered a masterfully thrilling mix of his whispered delivery crossed with irony guards-down introspection and belly-laughs all round, ‘The Wonder Show…’ is more A-level art exhibition than Guggenheim collection. This time the wheel spins to early, rough-edged Neil Young and amassed vocal choruses let forth an uplifting ethereality that makes up for the fact that much of it just drifts by. Oldham’s twisted love narratives were once to be greeted with open ears and weepy eyes but the contradictions and self-doubts of ‘The Wonder Show…’ tend to merge into one angelic wall of sound, without a defining vocal hook. It’s not quite diminishing returns, but more a sense that Oldham’s going round in decreasing circles.

Jason Draper

Click here to get your copy of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang’s ‘The Wonder Show Of The World from the Rough Trade shop