Walker Kong: Transparent Life

Walker Kong
Transparent Life
Magic Marker

If only we could put the aging process on hold for a little while, make it repeat like skipping vinyl, and pause on that time in life when it's as much fun to grow up as it is to be young. Since we can't, maybe we should just listen to Walker Kong. With a fresh take on classic power-pop, the local group fills the fountain of youth with Red Bull. Suddenly, everything old sounds revitalized.

Sidelined when he developed tinnitus after recording Walker Kong's fifth album, There Goes the Sun, frontman Jeremy Ackerman decided to create something quieter. Transparent Life is the reflective sound of the indoor life, of time spent creating art, reading, and listening to records. While Ackerman channels Nick Drake's Bryter Layter (for the strings) and Orange Juice's You Can't Hide Your Love Forever (for the blue-eyed soul swagger), the band funnels his exuberance through a bevy of back-up coos and ahs. Ackerman brings the whole won't grow up theme to the forefront in "The Leisure Class": "Have we always been deliberate/Too much concern about the future tense?" The keyboards pop, lead guitarist Tony Mogelson filters a few rays of sunshine between the bars, and Ackerman's voice strips down to mono-Dylan in order to accommodate the party behind him. The moment has all the frenzy of a Richard Lester movie, like a group of kids in A Hard Day's Night, frolicking down the street to the tune of a few stray guitar chords.

While "Battleship of Thieves" and "Margot Andilieu" reverberate wildly, "Halo Coming Down" and "The Neutral Kids" both cool the disco floor with spare organ and a bass thump heavy enough to outweigh A Certain Ratio. Transparent Life isn't all basement-party hijinks, however. Beneath the dissonant shade of New Zealand pop, Ackerman takes a breather, concentrating instead on the still life: He sings about a crystalline beach, bars of soap, even a library book--just as a perfect foil for letting the afternoon slip by. Sometimes the best things in life happen when you're not waiting around.

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