When several styles of music converge to create a brand of folk music, you get the folk noir style that is presented on Wookalily’s album, Everything Is Normal Except The Little Things Inside My Head. Slated to be released to the public on June 5, 2020, this bundle of creativity recorded on analogue equipment ambitiously blends the styles of blues, folk, rock, and more to guide listeners through an interdimensional journey.
“Folly Forever” introduces us to the more cryptic side of the band, employing the use of chilling chanting and hypnotic harmonies to lull you into a trance before the real show begins. Wookalily’s ability to transcend musical limitations is both daring and creative, producing a unique experience that’s unmatched by most folk music. Their creativity is exhibited by seamlessly transitioning from New Orleans inspired blues-rock on “Touché” to upbeat folk on “Welcome To The Fold.” The immense skill behind the music is evident, as the five-piece from Belfast utilize every instrument possible to create a smorgasbord of dark folk delights. Additionally, the diverse talent on vocals permits the band to oscillate from the silky-smooth jazz composition that is “Escort Me” to the relatively soothing psychedelic “Old New Mill.” The hypnotic and velvety vocals from Lyndsay Crothers probably stand out most to me on this album, as her ability to immerse you into the song’s atmosphere with the power of her voice is quite the feat.
The experimentation evolves throughout the record with a variety of instruments dictating the pace of the album, ranging from the dexterous fingerpicking banjo to the cabaret-inspired saloon piano. The brilliant aspect of this album is the ability to consistently surprise listeners with new techniques, which is the most evident on “Vampyre.” Composed as if it was planned for a Pulp Fiction sequel, this track blends haunting melodies with samba beats, creating a unique experience that leaves you tapping your feet to the rhythm. Contrasting the more vivacious tracks are the more subdued compositions such as “The Old Hag” and “Ghost.” By far the darkest track on the album, “Ghost” incites the malevolent and mysterious feelings from within to conjure an atmospheric track that chills the bone.
To state that there is filler on this album would be criminally repugnant, especially with how the band utilizes the arcane power of the banjo to convert ordinary songs into effervescent melodies. “Love Makes Me Sick” is a cheerful song juxtaposed with an acerbic assault on the concept of love, employing the banjo to create a confounding state of emotions. “The Nothing Song” utilizes the same formula as the other track, countering the melancholy lyrics with upbeat vocal harmonies and the bubbly plucking of the banjo.
Everything Is Normal Except The Little Things Inside My Head is an insanely innovative and intriguing album for anyone regardless of genre preferences. Not only is the musicianship excellent, but the visceral storytelling throughout the album is compelling and captivates you the whole way through. As this was my first experience with Wookalilly, I came away highly impressed, and I am now motivated to dig deeper into their backlog to engulf myself in their uniquely crafted brand of folk noir.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
*edited by Danielle Kenedy