William Lyon of Rosycross
Alter in der Fülle
Referring back to our recent review of Monsoon’s Now Became Never, we declared that “the chances of anything outstripping [it] in sheer lunacy this year are slim”. We stand by that, though now that William Lyon of Rosycross’ Alter in der Fülle is the topic of discussion, an addendum must be made: its lunacy has been matched, albeit in a vastly different form.
Alter in der Fülle is a pop album. By “the world’s only demi-crossdressing Christian goth synthpop artist”. William Lyon of Rosycross’ debut plays like Jarvis Cocker, having been raised on a steady diet of Sparks and New Order records, writing a satirical opera from the perspective of a deeply bizarre, pathetic, and conflicted individual doomed to constantly be jerked around by their opposing beliefs and personality traits.
Lyon’s lyrics are obscenely witty, from the internal crossdressing conflict in “Double Life” (“Late at night / When some slut / Has the nerve / To call me up / I struggle / And I fight / And I despise her / And I hide”), to the curmudgeonly “Rock and Roll Starbucks” (“Rock and roll Starbucks / Is 21 and over / You can smoke inside and they’re open all night / They wear black and white like the corporation likes / But they do it right like Siouxsie and the Banshees / And they’ve got busted dreams just like me”). Similar to another modern day musical satirist adopting a caricaturesque throwback aesthetic in Alex Cameron (who subverts American heartland rock), Chicago’s Lyon has made a very British record here. If Lyon himself is not originally from England, his faux-accent is convincing and at the same time, hilariously over-the-top, characterized by dramatic, echoed breathiness and the cheap, overt sleaziness and arrogance that defined subsets of glam-tinged 90s Britpop. Combining this fully committal, chameleon actor performance with the insane, unwittingly self-deprecating lyrics makes this the funniest album of the year.
Beyond that, it’s also one of the best pop albums you’ll hear all year. Every vocal hook is smartly positioned and endlessly quotable, and while Lyon refers to the sound of Alter in der Fülle as “the inimitable sound of 2004 poseur electronica (for instance, that super weak Postal Service record)”, he births some disgustingly sinister earworms with it.
Alter in der Fülle is the type of record that will always be hard to sell on words alone. It’s difficult to explain just what an absolute blast it is when nearly every characteristic it adopts individually is on some level unflattering. Like any satire, you’ll get and appreciate it, or you won’t. Regardless, this is one of the most individualistic takes on synthpop in recent memory. With a strong pop songwriting base and quirkiness abound, this is an absolute must-listen.
Favorite tracks: “Double Life”, “Protestant Body and a Catholic Mind”, “Lifeforce (Johnny, It’s Not Too Late to Call Off the Wedding)”
You can purchase William Lyon of Rosycross’ Alter in der Fülle here.