There’s no denying Ricky Wilcox is a master pop-music craftsman. Those familiar with his depthy resume – from band’s Delores Telescope up through his previous Moonsnakes release, Monkeyshine – have come to expect certain aural and aesthetic hallmarks. And they’re all here on Last Day on Planet Earth: the immaculate arrangements; the encyclopedic knowledge; the hooks, the harmonies, the sonic homage to five decades of pop.
What’s particularly inspiring about this release, however, is the addition of perhaps the healthiest dose of Wilcox’s own personality since the DT days. When he comes off as simply trying to build a superior pop tune, he succeeds, but at the occasional expense of emotional resonance. Songs like “Jump Back” and “Light Up” are perfect, yet a bit too familiar. When he leavens that talent with a healthy dose of personal expression, however, the results are amazing. “Arms Around It” adds the power to the pop, and the rollicking fuzz-toned closer “Spaceship Redux” is unabashed fun. Where Last Day really shines is on the more melancholy “Sad And Beautiful” and gorgeous album highlight “Guys Like Me And You,” in which shades of glittery ‘70s-era Bowie balladry collide with an earthy Sprinsteenian edge and Wilcox’s commitment to putting himself into the song to create true, lasting magic. (Critics’ Rating: 3.5/5 Stars)
Next show: Sat., May 20, noon, with Sweet Spot, Jeremy Thomas Band and Gerry Williams Band at St. Pete Thunder Fest, St. Pete Powersports, 555 34th St. S., rickywilcox.com.