Wesley Gonzalez, the former vocalist and guitarist for British punk band Let’s Wrestle, has just released his second solo project, Appalling Human. Gonzalez has taken a different avenue than his previous band, becoming more of an electro-pop musician. On his recent album, he strays away from his familiar guitar and uses many high-end synthesizers. Experimenting with more energy and dance music, Appalling Human sounds like a mixture of his previous band and his first solo album, Excellent Musician. Leading up to the June 12 release, he put out two singles, “Change” and “Tried To Tell Me Something”, giving a taste of his new dance sound.
Gonzalez has expressed that Appalling Human is a post-therapy project with a more positive take on his life. Released three years after his pre-therapy album Excellent Musician, this collection of songs exudes more confidence and has a disco feel. He states that Appalling Human is meant for a dance floor, taking influences from Prince and Eurythmics. The album tackles many heavier subjects, which can be expected from some of the song titles. “Wind Your Neck In”, “Fault of the Family”, and “Did You Get What You Paid For?” are a few of the tracks, each sounding like they are weighed with emotion. He does a great job portraying the emotion with his voice and seems to paint stories in each song. His voice is full and genuine, not sticking out too much, but staying raw enough to intrigue the listener.
The first single, “Change”, is a reflection of his life and seems to discuss parts of his childhood. Gonzalez talks about the song saying, ‘I wanted to be reassuring to someone when I also felt in need of reassurance, so this was my song for him.’ The song starts with synth and guitar, building up tension and creating anticipation. This is a great meld of his older guitar-oriented music and the new sound he has created. “Change” is accompanied by a video which uses a green screen and layered shots of Gonzalez himself. The background varies from streets to his bathroom with him singing and dancing in front. The song has a more upbeat tempo and seems to suit his voice well, possibly taking him back to the comfort of his punk-styled singing with Let’s Wrestle.
My favourite track off the album is “Used to Love You”. It starts off with an upright piano sound and follows with a dance beat. He mixes the classic piano with a synthesizer, giving it a familiar yet fresh feel. Gonzalez is able to display his piano skills, with a soothing solo finishing the track. He is also able to show off his falsetto voice at times throughout the song, specifically during the chorus. The change up from his usual full voice is nice. The instrumentation follows his vocal line at times, adding a little zest to the track. The lyrics take a more positive direction, reflecting on a relationship he had with someone. This song stands out from the rest of the album with a slightly more ballad-like structure.
The twelve-track album is a project meant to make people feel something. Gonzalez has stated that he just wants a reaction out of listeners. He uses past family problems and overcoming mental health issues to focus in on a personally therapeutic album. It is an emotional release for himself. He experiments with disco, vocal harmonies, and many synthesizers in Appalling Human, managing to create a synthesizer paradise. Although it seems as if this album is less versatile than his last, it has a more focused and mature sound. Focusing on the idea that it is a post-therapy album, it has a more reflective and determined feel than his debut solo project. Gonzalez is currently already working on his third album, feeding off the momentum from Appalling Human.