It may sound strange to call an album wherein the first song’s chorus is, “Dance with me, mother fucker”, a romance, but a romance is exactly what John Wesley Coleman III’s latest LP aims to be. On Microwave Dreams, Coleman’s eighth full-length, Austin’s ramshackle renaissance man delivers ten tracks that run the gamut from lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll to sweetly eccentric pop.
Microwave Dreams’ aforementioned opener, “Shovel”, kicks things off in fine form with pounding drums, gritty guitars, and a yo-yoing synth. An instantly catchy and upbeat number, “Shovel” finds Coleman singing in his rowdy, warbly Texas twang lyrics about how life can bury you, but as long as you have a shovel, you can always dig yourself out of your troubles and dance away your misery. Other highlights on the album’s first half include the raucous stomper “Hang Tight” as well as the humorous “Jesus Never Went to Junior High”, which manages to tack on a clever punchline that doubles as a nod to the allegorical “Footprints” poem.
The second half of Microwave Dreams begins with “Black Kite”, a short, peppy song that includes an intentionally clumsy guitar solo two thirds of the way in that carries the track to its inevitable end. More evidence as to the romance afoot on Microwave Dreams arrives in the form of “Exotic Tambourine”, in which Coleman reminisces about falling in love the night he played “Exotic Tambourine” with a special someone. The ballad “See You Tomorrow” provides a sad slide guitar accompanied by lovely acoustic plucking while Coleman sings in a near-whisper mournful lyrics about loneliness and longing. Microwave Dreams is concluded with the triumphant “We Care About Love”. The record’s appropriate capper utilizes a happy piano as well as an organ and horns to help bring home a near-ecstatic Coleman who repeats the song’s chorus until finally giving in to victorious, “Oohs.”
Song for song, Microwave Dreams is a definite step up from 2014’s The Love That You Own. While both albums would make decent jumping-on points for those unfamiliar with the artist, Microwave Dreams manages to be more eclectic than its predecessor stylistically without ever feeling inaccessible. John Wesley Coleman III wants you to fall in love with him. Microwave Dreams is his valentine to the world. So what are you waiting for? Get up and dance with him, mother fucker.