Marlon Williams is one of those rare talents that arrives seemingly already fully formed and then proceeds to blossom at such a mercurial speed it is astounding.
From the first moments of this, his second album, it is clear he possesses almost magical music qualities, translating the pain of the album’s background into a listening pleasure. Musically the album is flawless, casting a spell that never evaporates across the breadth of its compact 39 minutes.
And then there is that voice, eerily charismatic, sounding like a carefully worn but youthful cross between Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, yet always distinctly very much his own creation.
As is widely known this is Williams’ break-up album, an exploration of and response to the emotions and heartache accompanying the end of a long-term relationship.
Throughout the album he tries on a variety of wily characters, from the devilish moments on Party Boy when he warns the titular character from staying away from his woman, warning him his fate will be swimming with the fishes if he tries anything.
And then the heartbreaking and deliciously sad collaboration with that former partner, Aldous Harding, on Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore. The song is a bonafide masterpiece, the way their vocals combine to sing their song of longing and heartbreak is destined to pain any listener’s heart.
The album was recorded with his dextrous backing band the Yarra Benders and produced and mixed by Grammy-winning US-engineer Noah Georgeson (Joanna Newsom, The Strokes).
The closing title track is exquisitely charming and so timeless sounding it beggars belief – surely already the NZ album of the year.