Willie J Healey has perfected the art of intentional disarray.
His newest release Twin Heavy is a mish mash of tongue-in-cheek positivity and stark honesty. A host of sonic oxymoron, the record swings from bright to snarling and showcases Healey’s gift for snatching the things that inspire him in the moment, however absurd they may be, and transforming them into a genre-less splendour.
Take his Instagram page for instance, which over the course of lockdown he has used to flog his many hand-painted fish portraits. At another point he posted his mobile number on an Instagram story, through which a Willie J Healey faux cult whatsapp group has spawned. As millennial as it may sound, it’s a good reflection of WJH as a musical artist – unabashedly whimsical and unpredictable.
The album opens keen and buoyant with hopeful and bright “Fashun” – Its Beatles-inspired thumping piano and witty lyrics (“I know you and you know me / I guess it’s safe to say we both know each other”) may have those already familiar with Willie J Healey’s sound suspecting some mock optimism lurking here.
It’s worth noting that Twin Heavy was recorded in the same nine-day session as 2019 EP Hello Good Morning, and borrows three tracks from this EP – willowy love song “For You” being a particular standout. As seems to be the style of Willie J Healey, there are darker undertones to the track, enhanced by monophonic synth under Healey’s quiet vocal. He hits with some personal truths “Is it alright to feel afraid of things that haven’t happened yet?”.
Even with the knowledge of Willie J Healey’s unpredictable musical manner, he still manages to blindside with a track like “Condo” mid record. An impressive thing of beauty, both romantic (“she looked just like a moonbeam / she looked just like a dream”) and heart-breaking, its arpegiatted synth motif somehow managing to both soothe and instigate an overwhelming sense of uneasiness at the same time. It’s treats like this that sets Willie J Healey massively apart.
There’s a confidence, an appealing weirdness to Twin Heavy which looks keen to stretch the limits of the genres it might be categorised under. Completely unrestrained in his approach, and with a noticeably slick evolution since 2017’s People and Their Dogs, Willie J Healey seems set to continue in his upward trajectory of…wherever it is he feels like going next.