Album Review from Willamette Week

[DARLING POP] Ali Wesley has the voice of an angel. It's simple, pure, elegant. And her debut full-length, All Things (My Two Fish), would have you believe she's got the disposition of one, too. From the opening track, she sings darling folk-pop ballads about love, love, love. But that's only if you scratch the surface; amid all that mushiness lie stories of regret, imperfection, uneasiness and (gasp!) sex.

But the purely lovey material—some of the tracks are truly wholesome—is quite good in its own right. "And" describes how it feels to have a guardian angel over simple, brushed drums and acoustic guitar: "I accelerate through all the lights/ And I'm not scared." It's undeniably sappy, but Wesley's conviction—and her knack for infectious melodies—make it more charming than cloying. Likewise, "Blah Blah," though rooted in a potentially nauseating concept (that it's taboo to say "I love you" in a song), comes off clever. It starts with a drum-machine beat reminiscent of Ben Gibbard's early, lo-fi work as All-American Quarterback, which Wesley beefs up with a backdrop of synthesized organ, acoustic guitar and dainty, staccato backing vocals. Again, the whole thing is very sweet, but her explanations ("This language we've got has its pros and it cons/ And it's too bad there's only one way") make you smile more than cringe.

Wesley's good-girl facade is spoiled completely—thankfully—about two-thirds of the way through, though, by the darkly sensual "Love at You." Over minor, picked guitar, Wesley (who also plays drums and sings in local folk-pop band Super XX Man) says, "I hike up my skirt/ I have no pride." Later in the same song, she uses her divine voice to describe tying someone to a garden post to make sure they "stay." And "That Bridge," with its creepy cadence and sinister refrain of "You'll die on that bridge," adds a welcome dose of poison to Wesley's honey.

Earlier in the album during a shout-out (in title only) to Nico, Wesley even claims, "I was your creamiest dream" and outlines a guilt complex on the vaguely bluesy "Chelsea Girl." But, even when Wesley's lyrics betray her angelic voice, she still sings of love above all else. And Wesley seems to believe that love's a tangible thing: As she croons on "And," "You love me/ And I can hold that in my hands"—spoken like a true angel.

Willamette Week
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