The pulsation of a simple strumming of the guitar in “Carpet” is all that it takes to instantly capture the attention of anyone listening to this signature single from Wilhelm’s new album, the intimate Lace. The guitar parts are quiet and reserved, as is the shy vocal and its bittersweet nattering, but in the next few minutes, we’re going to witness a transformation that extends from the sonic realm into the poetic, with Wilhelm serving as our Sherpa on this rocky experimental road. His voice peppers the half-dead melody of the acoustic guitar with sadness, but the verses that it weaves so decadently over the strings aren’t as elegiac in tone at all. Wilhelm is reaching out here, begging for the object of his affections to turn around and hear what he’s trying to say. “Carpet” is one of the most simple and pure lo-fi folk songs that I’ve listened to in the last four years, but to say that it’s boasting a treasure chest full of aesthetical wonderment would be putting it very mildly.
As lo-fi as the production quality is, there is a ton of intricate detail in this single. Even with the implied void that hangs over the guitar and vocal track here, the harmonies never fall short of warming up the coldest of corners in “Carpet,” which makes it feel more like a freeform ballad that was recorded during a live performance in some tiny, smoke-filled club in the middle of nowhere. It’s a very surreal listen, but I think that it’s important to make the distinction between the style of postmodernity that Wilhelm is leaning on in this song and what many of his closest contemporaries in alternative rock and indie pop have been doing in the late 2010s. His sound relies on a lot of elusive melodies that come in and out of focus, in a sort of minimalist fashion that would befit early acoustic-based post-punk artists, whereas others have been steeped in overindulgence of the most grandiose variety (which can hardly be said of any song that we hear on Lace).
Though colorless and at times brutally jagged to the degree of being strictly geared towards left-field listeners, “Carpet” is undeniably one of the most compositionally literate and brilliantly constructed folk songs to see release this summer, which is no small statement to make when taking into account just how exciting indie music on this side of the pond has been getting in the last couple of months. There’s still some room for Wilhelm to grow into his sound a little more than he already has in Lace, but I think it’s safe to say that, judging by the caliber of content that he’s already given us to sample from in his debut album, his sound is going to produce some really great things moving forward. He’s kicking off his career with a bang, and with the momentum that he’s got behind him right now, it’s hard to imagine his sound staying off the mainstream radar for very long.
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