Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We are looking out from where we sit and all we can see is a scrum of broken lights, circling the ground like an obedient racecar or pony following the rabbit. We see the outlines of gyrating boys and girls, their erogenous zones and their sweaty bangs in neon colors. We can sniff out the scents of these same things, the remnants of a night that once was and is now slowly eroding from memory - though at the time, it was as memorable and as bumping as anything in that memory. We see and feel all of these things as brief and faded flashes, for we're thinking about them on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, possibly a Thursday afternoon, with the new weekend so close that it's right in front of our noses. It borders on the anticipatory as well as the retired fun times, enjoyed solely as sparks of the bygone. Oakland, California, two-piece Wallpaper brings this confliction to a head with its brilliant, instantly singable songs that should be the staples for any reputable dance club. "T REX" is a song of particular importance in this discussion as it details a young man who seems to eat up the downtown scene when it comes time for another weekend to roll through. He works all week long, works hard for his weekend and yet the picture that's painted is one of someone who puts on a separate face and body for his wee hours gallivanting, for the opportunity to let loose and obliterate his normal self, to completely disown his life of order and due diligence. He kills them off at quitting time on Friday afternoon and becomes a club hound. Ricky Reed sings in this song about "getting paid on the regular" and about how the main character "gets off" when he pays his bills on time, seeming to suggest that there are no financial concerns or debts to pay. All of this allows the fella to go BIG on the weekends, just like a tyrannosaurus rex, the original go-bigger of a creature. It's a massive slice of dance music that promotes a free-for-all, a situation that just dares anyone not to throw all cares aside and just blow it out.
Reed and Arjun Singh have made the sort of dance music that isn't over-the-top or tries to hard to get those bodies moving. It's literally just what it is: the kind of stuff that you pre-party to, playing flippy cup to in the kitchen or faux dining room of an apartment and then head out on the town, only to want to hear those same songs in a drastically more inebriated state. It will make for an inner roar, one that turns all of the juices and all of the synapses up to 11, making those evenings and the after hours taco truckin', talkin', smoochin', shaggin' and smokin' all seem like the kickers to some nights well-spent. They are nights that you will never want to give back. Wallpaper songs are not at all about regrets. They aren't filled with brags or boasts, just all of the wonderful sensations that come when the alcohol is settling into our veiny veins, as they so helpfully remind us. It's just our insides doing extra dancing for its own enjoyment. These are the moves that strike us as genuinely, embarrassingly poignant and worthwhile. Then it's back to those Mondays and earning two more of those days to cut loose through.
*Essay originally published November, 2010