Cindy Wilson, ‘Realms': Album Review
On her 2017 solo debut, Change, B-52's co-founder Cindy Wilson updated her classic band's new wave bounce to a more modern electronic playground that was constructed over the past 20 or so years. It all stems from the same place: dance music guided by synths, traces of '60s nostalgia and a rainbow-colored sound palette that bends across several genres.
The record didn't rewrite the rule book or even remove Wilson too far from her roots. While her old group continues to play select shows following a farewell tour, Wilson readied a second solo LP, Realms, that expands that palette a bit more but never travels out of the familiar havens of her or electronic music's pasts. It's a cozy record of late-summer sounds and soaring harmonies that elaborates on Change while still firmly tied to what Wilson does best.
Her greatest records will always be the ones she made with the B-52's. Her vocal blend with bandmates Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson has become inseparable from their music; she's the center-holding pillar that fortifies their collective strengths. But on her own, Wilson achieves a sort of guide position for the music, serving Realms inside and out without ever getting in the way of the songs. She's not a lead singer in the traditional sense, so there are no show-stopping moments here.
Still, Wilson brings both levity and stability to music that's occasionally in need of an anchor. The opening "Midnight" – all squiggly synths and robotic groove – sets an appropriate tone for Realms. Like the best B-52's tracks, nothing here gets too serious: Daydreams, nighttime revelry and basic self-help tips are all Wilson staples wheeled out in new blankets.
From the casually sinister industrial goth of "Daydreamer" and the sidestepping new wave spring of "Wait" to the soft ambient bed that underlines "Hold On" and the Moroder-like beat that drives "Delirious," Realms flitters around electronic music's past 45 years with seamless ease. Wilson, more deserving than most to revisit that past because she had a part in it, floats above it like an approving goddess. "This is not goodbye," she sings as the album fades to a close. Let's hope not.