'My Boy’s' title track – Marlon Williams’ first new solo music since the release of his breakup album 'Make Way For Love' (2018) – should come with a warning.
Beware: this song’s joyous, wordless, “doo-doo-doo, doo, doo, doo” chorus will become permanently lodged in your internal jukebox after just one listen. Built from a Māori folk strum, ‘My Boy’ sounds like sun glitter and blissful abandon. Perfect in its simplicity and catchy AF, it’s our biggest song crush of the year to date – we’re officially obsessed! The world seems more vibrant with each repeat spin.
Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.
Produced by Tiny Ruins guitarist Tom Healy at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios in Auckland, My Boy also features Finn’s son, and Crowded House bandmate, Elroy on drums and percussion. The only member of Williams’ long-time backing band, The Yarra Benders, to grace Boy’s liner notes is Dave Kahn and the excitement of the new filters through his third solo record.
Once Covid the fun sponge basically pressed pause on life, Williams found himself back home in New Zealand reconnecting with friends, family and his roots. Māori phrases are peppered throughout a couple of My Boy’s songs, including latest single ‘Easy Does It’ – resplendent with Delaney Davidson’s lap steel – which opens thusly: “Ngã mihi to your friends when they stop calling.”
In danceable standout track ‘Don’t Go Back’ (“…to the party everybody thinks they know you”) – which could be a companion piece for ‘Party Boy’ from his previous Make Way For Love set – Williams references the cry of New Zealand’s native owl, the ruru (“Tērā te tangi a te ruru!”).
‘Morning Crystals’ is a hoot, with its “Hey! Hey!” gang vocals evoking Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Then Williams is suddenly possessed by the spirit of Elvis (“Somebody help me”) during this song’s quirky bridge.
Elsewhere: ‘River Rival’ addresses the political divisiveness of vaccines; the ‘80s-referencing ‘Thinking Of Nina’, during which Williams channels Bryan Ferry, was inspired by the Cold War drama The Americans; and the descending vocal lines throughout the penultimate track ‘Trips’ are crestfallen beyond belief.
Show-stopping closer ‘Promises’ – a Barry Gibb-penned Barbra Streisand cover, resplendent with stately piano and Bee Gees-esque harmonies – is the perfect vehicle for showcasing Williams’ astonishing interpretative ability.
Williams has admitted he loves to “blindside people with upsetting mood shifts” during live performances and hoped to recreate some of this unpredictability on My Boy – success! It’s impossible to anticipate his next move, which is riveting from a fan’s perspective. But one thing’s for certain, Williams never disappoints.
Label: Virgin Music Australia
Release date: 9 September