Detroit rockers Wilson are back with a new record titled Tasty Nasty. Fans of the band’s full blast hard rock/metal sound are in for a surprise. Well, less of a surprise and more a shock. If you’ve been following lead singer Chad Nicefield on Instagram, he’s been leaving cryptic clues for at least a few months that with the benefit of hindsight seem to foreshadow the evolution Wilson was in midst of. Tasty Nasty is a complete re-branding. There isn’t a single thing on this record that sounds like Wilson. Or what we once thought of as Wilson. But is that a bad thing?
Honestly, I think it is. Wilson was one of the brightest acts in rock. Killer riffs. A singer who could scream with the best but maintained consistent melody with his lyrical phrasing. And great lyrics they were. Unafraid to experiment with anything. A killer live band that was tighter than their touring budget. Tasty Nasty is a paint by numbers cash grab. It sounds like two helpings of Smash Mouth with a dash of Limp Bizkit, two cups of Sugar Ray, and a tablespoon of Uncle Kracker that you mix until smooth and then slowly pour over Maroon 5. The aggression is gone. Listening to this record made me sad. Like losing a friend. That’s obviously a bit dramatic but I fear not doing so may undersell just how different this record is. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The record opens with “Dumptruck” which Chad explained to me was about getting ready to fuck. Now when you say it like that, that sounds very Wilson. But in reality, it’s more like Limp Bizkit. It is the heaviest track on the record. It’s different but not shockingly so. But the shock does come… and come. By the end of the record, the lyrics of “Dumptruck” sound like a farewell to fans of Wilson’s past work. “This one goes out to our blood to our history. This one goes back to our friends in East Lansing”. It comes off like a Dear John letter to their fans. It’s not a bad song. It was one of the albums pre-released singles. So if you haven’t heard it, it’s out there.
From there it’s modern production, cliché’ effects, Chad rapping, programmed beats with largely vanilla songs. The next 45 minutes will subtly remind of stuff you’ve heard before and probably didn’t like. I will admit, initially, I couldn’t decide if the songs were good or not because of how different this record is. I needed to listen a few times to get over my own shock. Producer Scott Stevens was brought in to slicken up the sound and broaden the appeal of bands like Shinedown and Halestorm but not to this degree. This record could have been recorded by almost anyone. Gone is the signature voice of Chad Nicefield. Replaced by a neutered Kid Rock. Gone is the twin guitar attack of Jason Spencer and Kyle Landry. Replaced by a guitar emulator. I can’t even comprehend Puhy playing drums as most of the tracks sound like programmed beats.
Songs like “Act My Age” and “Spanish Coffee” are a sort of mish-mash of adult contemporary and tween idol rock. And feature lyrics like “I was barely legal the first time I got laid. I had a fake ID, when I was in 11th grade”. They may have a bonafide hit with “Summertime Treat (Tasty Nasty)”. An extremely catchy hook that would fit right alongside any of Katy Perry’s chart toppers. “Money, Money, Money, Money” is a fun song that I think I’d like better were it not the product of one of my favorite bands being destroyed.
Maybe it was the acid Chad was experimenting with just before recording. Maybe it was realizing how hard it is to make a living in music and thinking this route could be more profitable. And maybe it really is just five guys from Detroit who collectively came to the same conclusion that neon shorts, tank tops, and jelly bracelets needed a soundtrack. It doesn’t matter. It really is ok for someone to like Slayer and Sugar Ray. For those people, this may be a welcome transition. For those who don’t feel that way, we’ll always have the old records. Tasty Nasty drops August 24th via Sony Red Records.