After the release of Andrew W.K.’s major-label debut, 2001’s I
Get Wet, rock critics, pop culture theorists and music fans the
world over began to debate A.W.K.’s use of irony.
On one side of the debate were those who argued that the only
way to reconcile the fact that Andrew W.K. makes such overblown
rock with the fact that he comes off as such a nice and
compassionate young man is to assert that he is being ironic. With
that in mind, they established a basic irony scheme that unfolds
like this: The fact that an artist, whose catalogue includes songs
such as “Party Hard” and “Party ‘Til You Puke,” takes his music so
seriously provides the most superficial level of irony. Digging
deeper, the reality that said artist is seemingly oblivious to his
ironic nature exposes a second layer of irony. Proceeding even
further, the very examination of the party monster’s ironic nature
offers a third tier of irony.
On the other side, the simple argument, that “dude just likes to
party” reigns supreme.
Two years pass, and the ironist extraordinaire himself remains
silent on the issue. Is he really so genuine, or is it all an
elaborate ruse? With the release of A.W.K.’s follow-up, The Wolf,
hopefully a clear answer will be provided.
It may at first appear that Andrew has grown as an artist with
The Wolf, considering that the percentage of song titles containing
the word “party” dropped from 25 percent to 8.3 percent. But party
purists should rest easy because A.W.K. makes up for the drop-off
with titles such as “Tear It Up” and “Make Sex.”
His party-hard mind-set firmly intact, Andrew complicates
matters in the irony debate by making his music even more overblown
than before. Each song is composed of dozens of instrumental and
vocal tracks, some with as many as – no joke – 300 vocal tracks.
What results is not a convoluted, cacophonic mess, but, ironically
(there it is again), a collection of simple, unpretentious rock
songs that all exude a Def Leppard-style bigness.
Combine that with A.W.K.’s overt benevolence, and it creates a
hazy feeling of elation. It feels so good, but no one is quite sure
why. The astute listener will hear a voice that asks, “Could I
really be enjoying a record that has lyrics like ‘I don’t wanna
make life / I don’t wanna make death / I don’t wanna make love / I
just wanna make sex’?” The even more astute listener will have a
second voice that tells the first voice to shut up and party
In the end, The Wolf never provides a definitive answer to the
question of irony. Trying to explain something like Andrew W.K. is
like trying to explain life itself. It doesn’t make sense because
it isn’t supposed to make sense. If it does, you’re doing something
Rating: 3 stars.
— Check out Wednesday’s edition of The Michigan Daily for an
interview with Andrew W.K.