by Craig Howieson
On Ruiner, album number two from Brooklyn three-piece Wilsen, the group seem unconcerned with the notion of following a defined path. They choose instead to furrow into the dimly lit hedgerows of dead ends and bask in the radiance of a horizon full of possibilities. At a time when any semblance of a societal middle ground is eroding, Wilsen show no trepidation in trying on various guises, even it is just to experience what it feels like to wear a different skin for once.
Ruiner is a balmy matrimony of blissful escape and scattered anxiety. Embracing washes of shoegaze and dream pop, the group paint over the cracks of their darker tendencies, imbuing them with the warming hues of summer. From finely polished alt-rock to deserted folk, the band conjure a beach scene surveyed over sunglasses; the faint echoes of a stomach tightening past ringing in your ears.
Tamsin Wilson’s lyrics relay her fear of falling into stasis. Whether that be in the fear of becoming too comfortable that you start missing the life happening around you – ‘I can’t stop the demons from yelling “when everything is fine, everything is finite”’ (Ruiner) or in lamenting time wasted ‘and all this time I waited to begin’ (Moon). The withering put down of someone unwilling to take a chance – ‘Inertia is easier than making a move that goes bad’ (Down) – only increases the frustration felt in trying to balance how best to use the time we have, without regretting what we cannot change.
As delayed guitars arrest your senses on the sublime, empire toppling YNTOO, Wilson’s ever calming voice acts as a constant reassurance. The closing line of ‘go wherever you will go’, whether an instruction or mantra, rings out with hopeful acceptance. On Ruiner, Wilsen have created a record of innumerable variances and shades, inspecting both sides of the same coin. In this world of increasing polarity, it is a beautiful thing to find a record trying to achieve some sense of balance.
Secret Meeting score: 81