By David Chiu
Multinstrumentalist Karl Wallinger—who is essentially World Party— may be the last great stylist popular music has these days. As evident on this latest work—the first new World Party album in almost a decade—Wallinger again draws inspiration from the past: the Beatles (“Another 1000 Years”), Dylan (“Who Are You”), ‘70s funk (Here Comes the Future), and early Elton (the ambitious socially-conscious finale “Always on My Mind”). The rest of the album is very introspective and spare as on “You’re A Hurricane:” and the beauty of “High Love.” Wallinger’s strongest gift merging melodic hooks and a high-minded idealism into intelligently and exquisitely crafted pop music (further enhanced by the fact that Wallinger’s singing sounds like another mastermind, ELO’s Jeff Lynne). Dumbing Up, a contender for one of the year’s top albums, proves how sorely missed Wallinger and co. was in the last ten years.