The Big Wu
First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2001, Volume 8, #2
Written by John Metzger
Those who found The Big Wu's Tracking Buffalo through the Bathtub to be a delectable dish of jammy goodness undoubtedly will enjoy thoroughly the group's latest concoction Folktales. There's no question that this band has talent, and its knack for turning out groovy, hook-laden melodies is difficult to beat.
The Big Wu has tightened its songs considerably since its last album, and though six of the ten tunes on Tracking Buffalo through the Bathtub surpassed the five minute mark, only three break that barrier this time around. This serves the collective quite well as the more constrained arrangements sufficiently keep the tunes from endlessly meandering without direction. Consequently, Folktales carries a more radio-friendly sound and comes off as a relatively close cousin of Phish's Farmhouse.
Unfortunately, The Big Wu continues to struggle on the lyrical front — another trait that the band seems to have borrowed from its aqueous idols. Simply put, singing the same set of words repeatedly over the course of a jam, as the group does on both Elani and Two Person Chair, does not make for a durable song. Of course, there's also the utter pretentiousness of House of Wu and the starry-eyed rambling of Kensington Manor, which builds to the profound, LSD-induced question, "Where'd I park my car?"
Yet, The Big Wu also shows some promise that perhaps it's nearing the point where it can craft a set of songs that actually say something. On Boxing Day, the song's buoyancy belies the underlying yearning of its lyrics, and more importantly it nearly resists the urge to delve into anything overly silly. This is still the exception rather than the rule, but it is most certainly a step in the right direction.
Folktales is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box